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The trouble with octuplets
When eight is more than enough
H

ey all you under-appreciated middle children, “you think you had it bad?” said Jessica Leeder in Canada’s The Globe and Mail. Imagine being “Baby H,” the eighth of a set of octuplets born to an unidentified California woman. Baby H made history, anchoring only the second set of live octuplets on record, but he was a surprise, “literally overshadowed by his seven siblings” until birth.

Being overshadowed would be better than living through “a prolonged news media circus,” said Ellie Tesher in The New York Times online, like the one that scarred the five identical Dionne girls, the first quintuplets to survive to adulthood. The octuplets’ parents can help by choosing to treat their eight kids—“and yes, even dress them”—like individuals.

Despite the “celebratory headlines,” said William Woodwell Jr. in the Los Angeles Times, we should think twice before we “celebrate a situation in which eight lives—nine counting the mother—have been placed at enormous risk.” Triplet-and-higher births are almost always premature, and that means higher rates of mortality, cerebral palsy, and other health problems, not to mention enormous postnatal costs.

Sure, doctors look at “high-number multiple births as a medical failure rather than as cause for celebration,” said the Los Angeles Times in an editorial, but then again, people always “cluck at the parenting decisions of others.” And while this California couple faces greater-than-normal parenting challenges, with eight live infants on hand, “this is one of the many days when they won’t” second-guess their choice.

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