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Woman claiming to be pregnant with 'duodecaplets' exposed as a fraud

23 August 2009
Appeared in BioNews 522

A Tunisian woman in her 30s who earlier this month claimed to be pregnant with 12 babies, has been exposed by the country's health ministry as a fraud. The woman, from the town of Gafsa told hospital workers that she was expecting six boys and six girls.

'Our staff interviewed her at length, but her pregnancy appears to be in her imagination', said a spokesman in Tunis. 'She's claiming to be nine months pregnant...but there's absolutely nothing about her appearance which indicates this. The woman has point blank refused to undergo a medical examination. She's gone into hiding'.

A doctor at the No'man al Adab Hospital, Gasfa, confirmed that the woman had never been in their care, speculating that she may have been trying to make money from the media. The woman, a teacher, is thought to have turned to IVF treatment after having two miscarriages since her marriage in 2007. Her husband, known only as Marwan, indicated that the couple were excited about the impending births and said that 'the medical team told us my wife would give birth naturally'.

British medics had expressed their concerns about the case. Peter Bowen-Simpkins, a fellow at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists told the Daily Mail that 'the chances are she will deliver at 20 weeks. I wouldn't even give her a one in 100 chance of even one surviving. It's frightening'.

It was suspected that the woman had been given fertility drugs to stimulate her ovaries into releasing several mature eggs at a time in order to maximise conception. Some women using this treatment can develop ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, in which the ovaries produce too many eggs, but experts cast doubt on this being the case.

'How could you get 12 babies into the womb at the same time?' questioned Mr Bowen-Simpkins. 'The womb just doesn't expand that much. She would have to be about seven feet tall'.

In January of this year, Nadia Suleman, a US divorcee, attracted worldwide media attention after giving birth to the world's longest-surviving octuplets. The record for multiple pregnancies was set in 1996, when a 23-year old Greek Cypriot woman had to abort nine of her 11 fetuses in order to save two.

Miracle mum's IVF shock
The Daily Star |  18 August 2009
Mum who claimed to be pregnant with 12 kids 'lied'
The Daily Mirror |  20 August 2009
Tunisian woman expecting 12 babies
The Guardian |  18 August 2009
Tunisian woman who claimed to be expecting 12 babies exposed as a fraud
The Daily Telegraph |  20 August 2009
Why 12-baby pregnancy is a tragedy-in-waiting
The Daily Mirror |  19 August 2009
20 October 2009 - by Antony Starza-Allen 
The US fertility doctor responsible for transplanting six embryos into a woman who gave birth to octuplets last January has been struck off by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) - although he is still able to practice as membership of the professional society is only voluntary....
9 March 2009 - by MacKenna Roberts 
Public outrage over the IVF-conceived octuplets born in January to Nadya Suleman in California has led US legislators in Missouri and Georgia to propose laws that would limit the number of embryos a woman may have implanted when receiving a single fertility treatment. Georgia Senator Ralph Hudgens...
16 February 2009 - by MacKenna Roberts 
The decision to implant six embryos into Nadya Suleman leading to the birth of octuplets has attracted international opprobrium. The 33-year-old unemployed single mother already had six children conceived after IVF with the same fertility doctor; all aged below eight, including two-year-old twins and an autistic...
1 February 2009 - by MacKenna Roberts 
Last Monday, eight babies - six boys and two girls - were born to a woman, whose identity has not been released, in Southern California at Kaiser Permanente Bellflower Medical Centre. The babies were delivered by a team of 46 attending professionals within a span of five minutes by...
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