Sextuplet Multiple Birth Statistics

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

Photo reprinted with permission of Jon Gosselin

In This Article

Sextuplets are a set of six offspring born at one birth. An individual that is part of such a set is called a sextuplet.

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

Roughly 160 sets of sextuplets have been observed around the world as of 2009 (although not all six babies have survived each time). 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 necessarily have to 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, such as the Van Houten babies born in 2004.

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, a mother will gain 31-80 pounds. According to a survey by the organization Raising Multiples, the average weight gain is 55 pounds. Some mothers will 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

  • 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 documents the daily life of the Gosselin family, which has both twins and 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.
  • There were two sextuplet births on June 10, 2007: the Masches in Arizona and the Morrisons in Minnesota (only one of the Morrison babies survived.)
  • Many parents of sextuplets are urged to consider selective reduction, reducing the number of viable fetuses to two in order to protect the health of the mother and give the babies the best chance of survival. Many parents of sextuplets have deep religious convictions that preclude them from seeking a reduction, and their faith sustains them through their extreme pregnancy.

Support Groups

Are you having sextuplets? It's important for families to seek support and advice from other families in the same situation. Here are some organizations that can offer resources and assistance:

Raising Multiples (formerly MOST): (United States)

Multiples of America (formerly NOMOTC): (United States)

Multiple Births Canada: (Canada)

Australian Multiple Birth Association: (Australia)

Multiples New Zealand (formerly NZMBA): (New Zealand)

Twins Trust (formerly TAMBA): (United Kingdom)

Strollers

Six-seat strollers are available and are a convenient – though pricey – option for transporting six babies. Runabout crafts multi-seat strollers with hand-welded steel frames and manufactures a model with six seats. They are quite expensive, costing nearly $1500 new from the manufacturer, but they may be available for cheaper on the secondary market.

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Article Sources
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