© 2021 KALW
KALW Public Media / 91.7 FM Bay Area
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
NPR News

Nonuplets: Woman From Mali Gives Birth To 9 Babies

Three of Halima Cissé's nine babies are seen in this handout photo from the Mali Ministry of Health and Social Development.
Three of Halima Cissé's nine babies are seen in this handout photo from the Mali Ministry of Health and Social Development.

A Malian woman has given birth to nine babies in what could become a world record. Halima Cissé had been expecting to have seven newborns: Ultrasound sessions had failed to spot two of her babies.

"The newborns (five girls and four boys) and the mother are all doing well," Mali's health minister, Dr. Fanta Siby, said in an announcement about the births.

The babies were born in Morocco, where Cissé was taken for specialist care in late March. Her multiple-fetal pregnancy has been closely watched in Mali, where the government helped pay for her medical evacuation to Morocco. Camera crews recorded her arrival.

Cissé, 25, gave birth by cesarean section – and doctors were surprised to find two more babies than expected, the health ministry said. The agency's announcement of the successful births was welcomed on social media in Mali, but some also urged the government to improve the standard of medical care in the poor West African country, noting the expense of such evacuations.

Professor Youssef Alaoui, medical director of the private Ain Borja clinic in Casablanca, Morocco, where Cissé gave birth, said the babies were born at 30 weeks. The newborns weighed between 500 grams and 1 kilogram (about 1.1 to 2.2 pounds), he told journalists in Morocco.

Cissé is in intensive care, but her condition is stable, Alaoui said, explaining that she suffered a severe hemorrhage related to the expansion of her uterus. During her stay at the clinic, doctors sought to delay the birth for weeks, to give the fetuses additional time to develop. The clinic has deployed a team of around 30 staff members to aid in the mother's delivery and care for her nine children, Alaoui said.

A nurse takes care of one of nine babies protected in incubators at the maternity ward of a clinic in Casablanca, Morocco, Wednesday. Halima Cissé had been expecting to give birth to seven babies; scans had missed two of them.
Abdeljalil Bounhar / AP
A nurse takes care of one of the nine babies protected in incubators at the maternity ward of a clinic in Casablanca, Morocco, on Wednesday. The mother was taken to Morocco for specialist care in late March.

During childbirth, Cissé's husband, Adjudant Kader Arby, remained in Mali with their daughter, according to the BBC.

Arby told the network he's "very happy" that his wife and the nine babies are doing well. In the excitement over their births, he added, "Everybody called me! Everybody called! The Malian authorities called expressing their joy. I thank them. ... Even the president called me."

The current world record for the number of live births is eight – a mark set by Nadya Suleman of California in 2009, according to Guinness World Records. But that feat also sparked controversy as medical experts and the public debated the use of fertility treatments to produce octuplets. Suleman's eight children were delivered nine weeks premature, also by C-section.

A Guinness World Records representative told NPR that "we are yet to verify this as a record as the wellbeing of both the mother and babies are of top priority." The organization said it's looking into the possible new record, employing a specialist consultant for the case.

It's not publicly known whether Cissé's pregnancy resulted from fertility treatments, as Suleman's did. Alaoui told The Associated Press that he does not know of her receiving such treatments.

The use of in vitro fertilization and other treatments, such as drugs that induce ovulation, have been linked to a boom in multiple births in the decades since 1981 when the first baby in the U.S. was conceived with an assist from reproductive technology.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.