It appears to be the first time on record that a woman has given birth to nine surviving babies at a time.
The five girls and four boys, as well as their mother, “are all doing well,” Mali’s health minister said in a statement.
The mother, Halima Cisse, 25, gave birth to the babies by Caesarean section Tuesday in Morocco after being sent there for special care, Mali’s top health official said.
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Associated Press reporters saw some of the babies shaking their hands and feet in incubators on Wednesday at the private Ain Borja clinic in Casablanca. Medical staff regularly checked their status in the neonatal ward lined with cartoon characters.
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Cissé was expecting seven babies. Malian doctors, on government orders, sent her to Morocco for deliveries because hospitals in Mali, one of the poorest countries in the world, are ill-equipped to provide adequate care for this exceptional multiple pregnancy.
Casablanca clinic director Youssef Alaoui told Moroccan state television they were contacted by Malian doctors about the case a month and a half ago. They weren’t expecting nine babies, he said.
Cisse gave birth prematurely at 30 weeks and is now in stable condition after heavy bleeding for which she received a blood transfusion, he said.
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The cesarean was ordered after Cisse had “birth pains,” said Alaoui, the clinic director. Babies weigh between 500 grams and one kilogram (1.1 and 2.2 pounds).
The Guinness Book of World Records said in an email to the AP on Wednesday that its current record for most live births at a time is eight and that it verifies the birth of Morocco.
The current Guinness Record holder is American Nadya Suleman, who gave birth to eight premature but healthy children in 2009.
Alaoui, the director of the clinic, told the AP that to his knowledge, Cissé had not used fertility treatments. The Malian Ministry of Health did not provide any other information on the pregnancy or the births.
Yacoub Khalaf, professor of reproductive medicine at King’s College London, said such births would be extraordinarily unlikely without fertility treatment, and noted the dangers of such multiple births.
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The mother was “at serious risk of losing her uterus or losing her life,” he said. Babies “could suffer from physical and mental disabilities. The risk of cerebral palsy is astronomically higher. “
He called for greater awareness around the world about monitoring fertility treatments and the risks and costs of having so many premature babies at once.