Published on May 31st, 20131
Quints Now and Then: The Garcia Quints Born May 26, 2013, The Dionne Quintuplets Born May 28, 1934.
Guillermina Garcia in Utah gave birth yesterday to quints with the help of eight doctors, an anesthesiologist and dozens of nurses. The pregnancy resulted from fertility drugs, taken not long after the birth of a daughter now a year old.
Although born seven weeks premature, their 31 1/2 weeks gestation was three weeks longer than most women are able to carry quints. Those three weeks allowed the quints’ lungs to develop more fully and vastly improved their chance of survival. Indeed two of the five are already off breathing tubes. The quints were born by C section and will be at the hospital for the next six weeks or so. The mother had been hospitalized and on bed rest since April.
Multiple births are hardly unusual these days, given today’s widespread use of fertility drugs. Even so, only about ten sets of quintuplets are born each year in the United States. Back in 1934, things were very different, when the Dionne Quintuplets were born on May 28, 1934. The quints were conceived naturally by a mother who’d already delivered six babies, and were born at home on a farm with the help of a rural doctor and two midwives. They survived despite a lack of incubators, breathing tubes or much else, and were the first set of quints anywhere known to have survived infancy.
In a guest blog at Nourishing Our Children, I tell the inspiring story of how the Dionne Quints were saved with a little soy acidophilus, and a lot of breast milk from a milk banking effort. But before that help came , the quints’ lives hung in the balance with formula made up from water, corn syrup and rum (added to help open up their breathing passages). They were kept warm with blankets heated at a kitchen stove. Sadly, the children’s birth and unexpected survival set off a media frenzy unmatched to this day. They grew up in the public eye, the subject of countless Life magazine and other news stories and were taken from their parents by the government of Ontario to live in a nursery where they were put on exhibit for millions of tourists.
In 1997, when the McGaughey septuplets were born, the three Dionne quintuplets then surviving, wrote an eloquent and compassionate letter published in Time magazine, pleading with the McGaugheys to let their children grow up normally and out of the public eye. It’s well worth reading and all in my blog at Nourishing Our Children. Meanwhile, a Czech woman is scheduled to deliver quints on Sunday. She conceived her babies naturally.