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Octuplets' Birth Stirs Controversy


An American woman who gave birth to octuplets on January 26 is causing a stir in the United States. The woman is unmarried and already had six other children.

Any mom knows, one newborn baby is a handful. Angela Pellegrino-Grant's son Sam fills her day.

"I can't imagine feeding eight babies at once," she said. "That's like, his whole world right now is eating. I must spend about four, five hours a day feeding him."

Last month a California woman gave birth to octuplets. Nadya Suleman is a divorced 33-year-old whose family just got a lot bigger and undoubtedly a lot louder.

The math is astounding to any parent in America, where the number of children in the average family is just two. Suleman already has six children, including a set of two-year-old twins and one autistic child. So now, she's the mom of 14 children, all under the age of 8.

Suleman lives with her mother and her father who says he will leave soon for Iraq to be a translator.

Her mom says her daughter's 14 children were conceived through in-vitro fertilization, and that none was fathered by Suleman's ex-husband.

Medical experts are criticizing doctors for implanting eight embryos. Dr. Mark Evans developed a process called selective reduction - choosing to terminate some embryos if multiple births are expected.

"Typically, two are implanted, occasionally three, on very rare occasions maybe four," Dr. Evans explained. "I can think of no circumstances in which anybody today would reasonably implant eight."

It's a concern echoed in hospitals and in college ethics departments.

"Any program that would put in eight embryos all at once not only is acting unethically," said Professor Arthur Caplan, ethicist at the University of Pennsylvania. "But I think they're getting close to malpractice."

Consider the finances. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the cost to raise 14 children through high school can reach nearly $3 million.

In California, the cost of a cesarean birth and the hospital stay of premature babies - like Suleman's - can top more than $1 million.

Suleman has a degree in child development but it's unclear if she'll return to work.

Professor Marianne Noble went through years of fertility treatments before adopting two children.

"I think it's going to be impossible for Nadya to provide all of these children the kinds of special services that they are going to need," she said. "So I see eight children who would make great adoptive children and could be given to parents who didn't win the in-vitro lottery."

But Suleman may not put the babies up for adoption. Before she left the hospital Thursday, she hired a public relations firm to field all the offers for television opportunities and book deals.

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