Triplets, quadruplets, quintuplets, and more may seem almost commonplace now compared to years past, at least to those of us who just read about them. But they are anything but commonplace to parents who find themselves suddenly leading a large family! Until just a few decades ago, multiple conceptions were rare, and surviving children from multiple births were extremely rare. Advances in prenatal diagnosis and neonatal care have raised the odds of survival, and fertility drugs have increased the incidence of multiple pregnancies. Scientists believe another factor is the growing tendency for women to give birth at an older age, since multiples are more common in older mothers.
The Fultz quadruplets were four identical girls born in 1946 in Rockingham, North Carolina. They grew up advertsing Pet Milk products. Three of the Fultz sisters died of breast cancer; the remaining sibling, Catherine Fultz Griffin, was treated for breast cancer. The News-Record of North Caroina has the story of the Fultz quads in a six-part series.
Continue reading for more quads, quints, sexts, septs, and more.
Lee and Pam Deschler of Pennsylvania kept an online diary from the time they found out they were going to have four babies at once until the children were 5 and a half. Most quadruplets are born around 29 weeks of pregnancy (39-40 weeks is normal for a single pregnancy). With the help of first-class medical supervision at Good Samaritan Medical Center in Phoenix, Arizona, the babies were delivered at 32 weeks and 5 days, weighing 3-4 pounds each. Reading their story gives one just a taste of how scary carrying multiple babies can be.
Karen Jepp of Calgary, Alberta bore four daughters last August, a rare instance of identical quadruplets. The babies were conceived without fertility drugs, and were delivered two months early. The odds of identical quadruplets are about one in 13 million. Less than 50 cases appear in medical records (including the Fultz quads). Karen and her husband J.P. traveled to Great Falls, Montana for the Caesarian birth, making the four girls American citizens. The quadruplets have been home a few months now, and are thriving.
The Dionne sisters were the first quintuplets to survive infancy. The five identical girls were born prematurely on May 28, 1934, near Corbeil, Ontario to Elzire and her husband Oliva Dionne. The government of Ontario took custody of the girls from their parents and raised them in a specially-built facility that came to be known as Quintland. Marie, Cecile, Yvonne, Emilie, and Annette were made wards of the crown to protect them from exploitation. However, they were exploited by their new guardians. The quints lived an isolated life while Quintland saw millions of visitors (and dollars). The family regained custody when the sisters were nine years old, but they never bonded with their biological parents. They later broke off all contact with the family. The two surviving sisters, Annette and CÃ©cile, are almost 74. An extensive history of the Dionne quints is online at Quintland. Also see videos of the Dionne quintuplets.
The Harris sextuplets of Birmingham, Alabama were born on July 7, 2002. They are the first surviving set of African-American sextuplets in the USA, all born healthy. Like the Dilleys, they were expecting quintuplets and were surprised at the sixth child. In 2005, the TV show Extreme Makeover Home Edition sent the six toddlers, along with their parents Chris and Diamond and older brother Dewayne to Walt Disney World and built them a new 5,800 square foot home.
Patti Frustaci was the first woman in the US to give birth to septuplets. The four boys and three girls were delivered by Caesarian section 12 weeks prematurely. One girl was stillborn, and two boys and a girl died within 19 days from hyaline membrane disease, a complication of prematurity. The three surviving infants, Richard, Patricia and Stephen were found to have developmental deficits and cerebral palsy. Sam and Patti Frustaci sued their fertility doctor and clinic and accepted a 2.7 million dollar settlement. The couple later conceived healthy twins, but the family broke up sometime afterward.
Kenny and Bobbi McCaughey produced the world's first surviving set of septuplets on November 19, 1997. The babies were conceived with the help of fertility drugs. The McCaugheys received some negative publicity due to their decision not to have "selective reduction" performed in order to boost the survival chances of the remaining babies. The septuplets were delivered nine weeks prematurely, and two of the children have cerebral palsy. The family grants very few interview requests outside of yearly updates with Ladies Home Journal (posing here with their older sister Mikayla) and Dateline NBC, where you can see their tenth birthday report.