Octuplets: Fertility drugs questioned

"You can never be 100 percent sure because nature can do some strange things, but yes I feel quite confident that fertility medications were involved," said Dr. Richard Paulson, director of the fertility program at the University of Southern California.

Dr. Paulson offers his best explanation for how a woman can end up with eight babies.

"It's one particular kind of treatment which is when you use fertility medications, and do not do IVF that you cannot control the number of eggs that comes out," said Dr. Paulson.

But carrying eight babies meant that her health, or the health of her babies, could be in peril. Her doctors say early on in her pregnancy she was advised about her options.

"And so naturally part of the counseling is the recommendation for selective reduction," said Dr. Harold Henry.

"What is done is if the pregnancies are all continuing, and it looks like there is going to be eight babies going on, then a procedure is done where a needle is passed into some of the gestational sacks, and the fetal heart is stopped in each of those," said Dr. Paulson. "Notice that some people would consider that to be an abortion. Others would say that it is not a termination of a pregnancy, but rather the increasing of the health and the viability of the remaining two babies that you leave in the uterus."

"Mom was very much aware of the potential problems that lay ahead. The biggest concern is always preterm birth and early delivery," said Dr. Henry.

The Bellflower octuplets went to 30 and a half weeks. While it appears all eight babies are doing well, Dr. Paulson says high multiple births is something fertility specialists try to avoid.

"This must be seen as a very serious complication of fertility therapy. Fertility doctors are not trying to make octuplets. We are trying to avoid these high or multiple gestations," said Dr. Paulson.

Dr. Paulson says, despite the huge challenges, the Kaiser team of doctors and nurses should be commended for delivering all the babies successfully.



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