A set of septuplets born in just three minutes was today said to be doing well but will remain ‘‘critical’’ for the next few days.
The five boys and two girls, who have not been named, were delivered by Caesarean section early this morning in a hospital in Washington DC.
The septuplets and their mother were said to be doing well and doctors said they had an excellent prognosis because of their high birth weights.
Their parents have asked the hospital to keep the family’s name secret.
There are only two other surviving sets of septuplets in the world, one born to a woman in Saudi Arabia in 1998 and a second delivered the same year to a woman from the American state of Iowa.
The seven babies were being kept in intensive care in Georgetown Hospital in the American capital, with one of the two girls on medication to maintain her blood pressure.
They were born at 28 weeks, almost three months premature, after doctors decided to intervene before they threatened the health of their mother.
Dr Siva Subrmanian said the babies were in good condition and the medical team was hopeful about their outlook.
But he warned the next few days will be critical to their survival.
‘‘They are going to remain critical over the next few days although they have done very well at this point,’’ said Dr Subrmanian, head of neonatology at the hospital.
The smallest baby weighted 910g, or just over 2lb, with the largest weighing 1,100g, or just under 2lb 9oz.
They were delivered by a team of more than 24 doctors and nurses early this morning after their mother spent three weeks in hospital.
Today the mother was said to be in a good condition at the hospital, where the children’s father was at her side.
A spokeswoman for the hospital said: ‘‘Everything seems pretty calm. That’s all I can say.’’
Dr Subrmanian said it was almost impossible to predict the future for the babies because of the tiny numbers of surviving septuplets.
But he said that if they had been twins, their birth weight pointed to an extremely high chance of survival.
‘‘Any time when you look at prognosis, it is a combination of gestational age and birth weight,’’ said the doctor.
‘‘If you take a look at the national statistics, the survival rate for twins of that weight would be 85 to 90%. We have a 100% survival record at Georgetown over the last year.’’
The septuplets born in 1998 to Bobbi and Kenny McCaughey of Carlisle, Iowa, are now three-and-a-half years old.
All have survived but three suffer health problems.
The largest multiple birth ever recorded was when Geraldine Broderick delivered five boys and four girls on June 13, 1971, but none survived.