Sextuplet Multiple Birth Statistics

The Gosselin Sextuplets: Hannah, Collin, Alexis, Leah, Joel and Aaden

Photo reprinted with permission of Jon Gosselin

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Sextuplets are a set of six offspring all born from the same birth. Parents who are expecting sextuplets will encounter special joys and challenges as they prepare for this rare type of pregnancy and birth.

Types

Sextuplets can be fraternal (multizygotic), identical (monozygotic), or a combination of both. Multizygotic sextuplets occur from six unique egg/sperm combinations. Monozygotic multiples are the result of a fertilized egg that splits into two or more embryos.

It is possible for the split to occur more than once, producing monozygotic triplets or potentially even a set of monozygotic sextuplets, although none have been documented. It is also possible for sextuplets to include one or more sets of monozygotic twins among the six individuals.

Sextuplets can be all male, all female, or a combination of both. Monozygotic multiples will always be of the same gender.

Statistics

While all multiple births are rare, giving birth to triplets or more is extremely unusual: only 87 births out of 100,000 (less than 0.1%) fit into this category in 2019, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The first surviving set of sextuplets was born in South Africa in 1974. The first surviving set of sextuplets from the United States were the Dilley sextuplets born in 1993, often referred to as the "Dilley Six Pack."

Very few incidences of the spontaneous conception of sextuplets have been reported. Nearly all of the sextuplet births in the past several decades were the result of fertility enhancements such as ovulation-stimulating drugs.

Sextuplets do not always share the same birthdate. A delayed interval delivery (also known as iatrogenic asynchronous birth) may mean that individual babies are born days or even weeks apart.

Pregnancy

The average gestation for a sextuplet pregnancy is 29.1 weeks, as opposed to 40 weeks for a full-term baby. During pregnancy with sextuplets, an expectant parent will gain 31 to 80 pounds.

Some mothers require cervical cerclage, a surgical procedure in which the cervix is sewn shut to prevent preterm labor. Nearly all sextuplet pregnancies result in a cesarean delivery.

The average birthweight of a sextuplet is about 2 1/2 pounds, and nearly all sextuplets require medical care in a hospital NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) for several weeks to months after birth.

Interesting Facts

Many parents of sextuplets are urged to consider selective reduction, decreasing the number of viable fetuses to protect the mother's health and increase the babies' chance of survival. These parents often have religious convictions that preclude them from seeking a reduction, however, and their faith sustains them through their extreme pregnancy.

  • Sextuplets have been widely followed in the media, from the Dilley "Six Pack" born in 1993 to the television series "Jon & Kate Plus 8" which documented the daily life of the Gosselin family. Kate Gosselin gave birth to one set of twins and one group of sextuplets.
  • Six sets of sextuplets were born in the United States in 2004.
  • The Walton sextuplets of Great Britain were the first surviving set of all-female sextuplets; there are no known surviving sets of all-male sextuplets.
  • A woman in Texas gave birth to sextuplets (three sets of twins) in under 10 minutes in 2019.

Support Groups

Are you having sextuplets? It's important for families to seek support and advice from others in the same situation. The following organizations can offer resources and assistance:

  • Multiples of America (formerly NOMOTC): maintains a national database of local clubs for parents of multiples
  • Raising Multiples (formerly MOST): provides information about a variety of issues and interests for families of multiples
  • TwinMom: offers resources for all stages of multiple pregnancy, birth, and child-raising, in addition to a list of local support groups across the country

Strollers

Six-seat strollers are a convenient—though pricey—option for transporting six babies at a time. Runabout crafts multi-seat strollers with hand-welded steel frames, and they offer models with six seats.

These specialized strollers are quite expensive (costing nearly $1500 new from the manufacturer), but they are known for their quality and durability.

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8 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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