Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Woman May Mark Labor Day with Quadruple Birth Time Increases Babies' Weight, Chances

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Woman May Mark Labor Day with Quadruple Birth Time Increases Babies' Weight, Chances

Article excerpt

Susan Graham may bring new meaning to Labor Day in St. Louis this year: She's expected to give birth to quadruplets at Jewish Hospital.

Graham, 24, is hospitalized to prevent her from giving birth before Sept. 5, or the 34th week of gestation.

That should be enough time for the quads - probably all boys - to mature and avoid lung damage and other risks of low birthweight.

Graham, a secretary from DuQuoin, Ill., is among growing numbers of women who take fertility pills because they had been unable to get pregnant.

One result of taking fertility pills is a doubling of the birthrate of quadruplets and triplets nationwide in the last decade.

To give optimal care to twins, triplets and quadruplets - and their mothers - Jewish Hospital opened a Center for Multiple Births in October.

It has delivered and cared for 27 sets of twins and three sets of triplets.

But the Grahams' quads will be the center's greatest challenge so far. When Susan Graham goes into labor, 25 specialists - including two pediatricians and two nurses for each baby - will take part in delivering the quads.

If all goes well, they will go home after only a week or two in the neonatal unit of St. Louis Children's Hospital.

A premature or low-birthweight baby spends an average of 30 days in neonatal intensive-care units, says Dr. Michael J. Paul, director of the multiple birth center. "My goal is to delay the quadruplets' delivery at least until Labor Day, when they should each weigh about 4 pounds," said Paul, a perinatologist and assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Washington University Medical School.

An ultrasound test on Friday showed that the babies weighed slightly under 3 pounds, he said. Each baby will gain about one-third of an ounce a day until Labor Day, bringing the weight of each baby up to 4 pounds.

"The Graham babies will be smaller than a single baby, but at 4 pounds, there's hope that they'll be in intensive care for no longer than a week," Paul said.

A short stay also means smaller hospital bills. For each baby, it costs about $3,000 a day in neonatal intensive-care units. If the quads spent 30 days in intensive care, the bill would be $360,000; if they spend the week that Paul hopes for, the bill is $84,000. …

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