Quintuplets are a set of five offpsring born at one birth. An individual that is part of such a set is called a quintuplet and sometimes referred to as a quint.
Types of Quintuplets
Quintuplets can be fraternal (multizygotic), identical (monozygotic) or a combination of both. Multizygotic quintuplets occur from five unique egg/sperm combinations. Monozygotic multiples are the result of a fertilized egg that splits into two or more embryos. It is possible for a split to occur more than once, producing monozygotic triplets or even a rare set of monozygotic quintuplets. Fully monozygotic quintuplets are rare. representing only one in about 15 million pregnancies. Quintuplets can be all male, all female, or a combination of both. (Monozygotic quintuplets will always be of the same gender.) Most quintuplets are a combination of boys and girls; all male or all female quintuples are rare. In 2008, a Polish woman gave birth to a set of "probably identical" girls without the aid of fertility drugs.
Odds of Quintuplets
In 2005, the National Vital Statistics report for the United States reports the birth of 68 quintuplets and higher order multiples. Because this number includes the possible birth of sextuplets, septuplets or more, I can't determine exactly how many of those births were quintuplets. Spontaneous conception of quintuplets is rare, the average estimate is 1 in about 60 million births. Most recent quintuplet births are the result of assisted reproductive techniques such as fertility enhancing drugs or in-vitro fertilization.
Quintuplets 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 with Quintuplets
The average gestation for a quintuplet pregnancy is 29 weeks, as opposed to 40 weeks for a full-term baby. The longest gestation was 35 weeks, a record held by the mother of the Stanford quintuplets in Rhode Island. Many mothers will gain more than fifty pounds during their pregnancy and will require cervical cerclage, a surgical procedure in which the cervix is sewn shut to prevent preterm labor.
Nearly all quintuplet pregnancies result in a casearan delivery. The average birthweight of a quintuplet is about 2 pounds, 12 ounces and most quintuplets receive medical care in a hospital NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) until they reach their original birth date.
Perhaps the most famous quintuplets are the Dionne Quintuplets born in Canada in 1934. They were the first surviving set of all identical quintuplets. The girls - Annette, Émilie, Yvonne, Cécile and Marie - attracted worldwide attention. They were removed from their parent's care and placed in the custody of a doctor, who displayed them as a tourist attraction.
Interesting Facts About Quintuplets
- The largest birthweight quintuplets were the Wilkinsons, weighing more than 21 pounds combined when they were born at about 34 weeks in 2007.
- There are over 100 sets of living quintuplets in the United States.
- Parents of quintuplets will change more than 35,000 diapers before their kids are potty trained.
- The first set of quintuplets born in the United States were the Kanouse quints in Wisconsin in 1875. They were all boys and did not survive.
- The Fischer quintuplets were the first surviving quintuplets in the United States, born in 1963 in South Dakota.
- Baseball player Melvin Mora is a dad of quintuplets born in 2001 (3 girls and 2 boys).
- The mascot of the 2008 Beijing Olympics are quintuplets.
- A 2004 television show, "Quintuplets" starred Andy Richter and Rebecca Creskoff as parents of teenage quints.
- The 1994 novel, Feather Crowns, is about a young Kentucy farm couple who gives birth to quintuplets.
Support Groups for Families with Quintuplets
Are you having quintuplets? 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:
MOST (Mothers of Supertwins: http://www.mostonline.org/index.htm (United States)
Multiple Births Canada's Higher Order Multiples Support Network: http://www.multiplebirthscanada.org/english/higherorder_info.php (Canada)
The Triplet Connection: http://www.tripletconnection.org/(United States)
National Organization of Mothers of Twins Clubs (NOMOTC): http://www.nomotc.org/ (United States)
Australian Multiple Birth Association (AMBA): http://www.amba.org.au/ (Australia)
New Zealand Mutiple Birth Association (NZMBA): http://www.nzmba.info/ (New Zealand)
Twins and Multiple Birth Association (Tamba): http://www.tamba.org.uk/ (United Kingdom)
Strollers for Quintuplets
Five-seat quintuplet strollers are available and are a convenient -- though pricy -- option for transporting quints. The most prevalent brand is Runabout, a company that crafts multi-seat tandem strollers with hand-welded steel frames. They are quite expensive, costing nearly $1000 new from the manufacturer, but are widely available on the secondary market. (Triplet Connection also offers discounts for parents of multiples.)
Blogs and Links About Quintuplets
For more information about quintuplets, visit these sites on the web:
- Case Histories of Quintuplets at Incrediblebirths.com
- Facts About Quintuplets
- G.R.A.C.E. Plus One (Ferraro quintuplets)
- Whalen Quintuplets
- Wilkinson Quintuplets
- Brooks Quintuplets
- Shier Quintuplets