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Dodeca-mom could smash multiple birth record with 12 babies


A woman in Tunisia is said to be pregnant with six boys and six girls, The Sun reported yesterday.

If the woman, a teacher in her 30s who was not named in the newspaper, successfully delivers all 12 infants, as she has vowed to do, she would be going against medical advice and shattering the world record for multiple births.

"In the beginning we thought that my wife would give birth to twins," the father, identified as Marwan, told the paper, "But more fetuses were discovered. Our joy increased with the growing number."

After suffering previous miscarriages, the woman reportedly turned to fertility treatments, which are known to increase the probability of multiple births. However, it is highly unlikely that all the babies will make it to term, experts say.

"When you get to a pregnancy with that many multiples, often some of them spontaneously die," Manny Alvarez of said, "Anything more than five babies becomes a very high-risk pregnancy."

The current record for multiple births is the octomom, Nadya Suleman, of the Los Angeles suburb of Bellflower, who gave birth in January. Read our Ask the Experts to find out why multiple births are so rare in humans.

UPDATE (8/19/09): A British newspaper has discredited the dodeca-mom story.  Read our update here.

Image of pregnant woman courtesy mahalie via Flickr

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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