Woman has rare identical quadruplets

Updated: 2007-08-17 10:11

HELENA, Mont. -- A 35-year-old Canadian woman has given birth to rare identical quadruplets, officials at a Great Falls hospital said Thursday.

J.P. Jepp cradles Dahila Jepp, Thursday, Aug. 16, 2007, at a hospital in Great Falls, Mont., one of the identical quadruplets his wife Karen Jepp gave birth to Sunday afternoon, Aug. 12, 2007. [AP]

Karen Jepp of Calgary, Alberta, delivered Autumn, Brooke, Calissa and Dahlia by Caesarian section Sunday afternoon at Benefis Healthcare, said Amy Astin, the hospital's director of community and government relations.

The four girls were breathing without ventilators and listed in good condition Thursday, she said.

"These babies are doing grand," said Dr Tom Key of Great Falls, the perinatologist who delivered the girls.

The babies were born about two months early and were conceived without fertility drugs, he said. They weighed between 2.6 pounds and 2.15 pounds.

Jepp and her husband, J.P., declined to be interviewed.

"The parents have been a little bit shy about the press. ... We agreed to handle it in a way they were comfortable with," Astin said. The couple have a 2-year-old son, Simon.

J.P. Jepp works for Shell Oil Co., and both worked for nonprofit groups until recently, Astin said.

The chances of giving birth to identical quadruplets is about one in 13 million, Key said.

"This is a very big medical event," he said. "Identical quadruplets are extremely rare."

Medical literature indicates there are less than 50 sets of identical quadruplets, said Dr Jamie Grifo, director of the NYU Fertility Center in New York.

The last reported set were born in April 2006 to a 26-year-old Indian woman.

The Jepps drove 325 miles to Great Falls for the births because hospitals in Calgary were at capacity, Key said.

"The difficulty is that Calgary continues to grow at such a rapid rate. ... The population has increased a lot faster than the number of hospital beds," he said.

Two of the girls were to be transferred to a Calgary hospital later Thursday. The other two could be moved Friday if their conditions remain favorable, Key said.

They will likely remain hospitalized for four to six weeks, he said.

"These quads are special," Astin said. "The fact that she carried them 31 weeks and three days is excellent."

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