A young mother from West Africa is believed to be the first woman recorded in history to give birth to nine children in one go. Timbuktu woman Halima Cisse successfully brought five girls and four boys into the world and could even set a new world record for nonuplets.
Mali health officials confirmed the 25-year-old gave birth via a cesarean section surgical procedure, and all nine newborns survived in Morocco on May 4. Each of the babies weighed between 1.1 pounds and 2.2 pounds.
“The mother and babies are doing well so far,” Malian Health and Social Development Minister Fanta Siby said in a statement obtained by the New York Post.
The previous record for the most live births is eight, held by Californian Nadya Suleman since 2009.
Nonuplets have appeared before, with the earliest known case dating back to 1971 in Sydney, Australia, where none of them survived. According to the paper, another nonuplet birth was reported in Malaysia during 1999 but none of the newborns lived for more than a few hours.
Jim Pattison Group, which publishes the Guinness Book of World Records, is verifying the integrity of the births. If they are confirmed to be nonuplets, it could become a new world record.
This is not the first time Cisse had children, as she already has a daughter with her husband Adjudant Kader Arby.
“God gave us these children [and] he is the one to decide what will happen to them, I am not worried about that,” Arby said according to The Guardian. “When the almighty does something, he knows why.”
Cisse was initially admitted to hospital in the Malian capital of Bamako, where an ultrasound scan identified seven tiny little heartbeats. Primary health professionals responded by preparing special medical attention due to the high number of newborns expected.
This news eventually reached the desk of Malian President Bah N’Daw, who ordered Cisse to be sent to North Africa, where more specialists can help deliver the babies. The mother was admitted to a Moroccan clinic on March 20 and gave birth to the nonuplets on May 4.
Ain Borja Clinic Director Youssef Alaoui revealed his team of doctors was informed about the case at least six weeks ago. However, none of them expected there would be nine babies—two more than initially anticipated.
Multiple births are typically the result of in vitro fertilization. This procedure simultaneously fertilizes multiple eggs with sperm before implanting them into a woman’s womb to increase the chance of falling pregnant.
King’s College London reproductive medicine professor Yacoub Khalaf revealed multiple births are very rare without resorting to fertility treatment. There are also several health risks involved with multiple births.
“[The mother] was at severe risk of losing her uterus or losing her life,” he said according to ABC News. “[Babies] could suffer physical and mental handicaps. The risk of cerebral palsy is [also] astronomically higher.”
Cisse thanked every primary healthcare worker in Mali and Morocco who assisted her on her journey.
“[Their] professionalism is at the origin of the happy outcome of this pregnancy,” she said according to the New York Post.
Malians have welcomed the successful birth, which brought some badly needed joy to a nation already struggling with political instability and a jihadist insurgency.