Theophanes is a New-England-based blogger, traveler, writer, photographer, sculptor, and lover of cats.
Astounding Anomalies in Reproduction
When it comes to family planning, most people don't think too far outside the box. In fact, if you ask a random person on the street a basic question like, "At what age can a woman get pregnant for the first time?" you'll likely hear the same answer: "Some time in her teens?"
Although this is normally the case, there's a lot of anomalies out there that can shock, scandalize, or intrigue. Below are just some of the cases of very special women, men, and families who have found themselves in the record book. Enjoy!
The More the Merrier!
With all the controversy surrounding "Octo-mom," you might think that having a set of eight babies is the record—but you'd be mistaken! In fact, these large families are real eye-openers on the subject! (Though Nadya "Octo-mom" Suleman is indeed to person with the most babies born at once to have them all survive.)
Most Multiples Born at Once
When it comes to large families, Australia and Malaysia know where it's at! On June 13, 1971, an Australian family by the name of Broderick witnessed the arrival of five sons and four daughters, making this a multiple birth of nunuplets (nine babies in all!).
This was the 1970s, however, and such births were rare, and the medical knowledge for caring for them was just as poor. Two sons were stillborn and the longest surviving bundle of joy died just six days after birth.
The only other recorded nunuplets greeted the world for the first time on March 26, 1999 in Malaysia. Their mother Mat Saad successfully gave birth to all of them without any still births but none of the babies lasted more than six hours.
Most Natural Children Born to One Woman
Russia holds one very staggering record for what must have been one very tired woman!
Since she lived in the 1700s and was a peasant, we know very little about her. But her name was Valentina Vassilyeva and she had 69 children, including 16 sets of twins, 7 sets of triplets, and 4 sets of quadruplets. That would have accounted for no less than 27 pregnancies between 1725–1765. And the topping on this very large cake would be the fact that she somehow managed to only lose two in infancy during a time when infant mortality was very high.
Her husband also went on to further fame after she died, as he married a second wife with which he sired 18 more children, bringing his personal record up to 87 children. Whatever happened to Mrs. Vassilyeva, we may never know. But maybe somewhere out there, she has a few hundred grandchildren who might have part of the story.
Most Children Sired by One Father
Having to incubate a baby in your womb for nine months can really slow down the number of children you're capable of having, but what if you were a man?
How many children could you sire if you were say, the last Sharifan Emperor of Morrocco? Historians believe that Mulai Ismai holds this record, aided by no less than 500 wives! When he died in 1727, at the age of 81, he was said to have left around 800 heirs!
Most Children Born to a Surrogate Mother
This is another one of those controversial cases. Why would anyone want to carry a stranger's baby? Although I can't answer this question, Carole Horlock probably can. She gave birth to triplets for one family, but this wasn't enough. She would continue being a surrogate until she birthed 13 babies for 8 families, none of which were her own.
She would go on, however, to give birth to two daughters of her own!
Most Prolific Sperm Donor
For thousands of years, infertile couples had to either accept their lot in life or adopt. When sperm banks came into existence, they had a new ray of hope.
But when this medical practice was in its infancy in the 1940s, there wasn't a lot of restrictions, protocols, or regulations. Record keeping was often sketchy at best.
A man by the name of Bertold Wiesner knew this, and he decided at one point to use it to his advantage. He would often give couples sperm "from a man of slightly above-average intelligence." Years later, when a lot of the babies started to look suspiciously like the good old doc, people started to ask questions. Although we can't tell for sure how many babies he sired using his own donations, the estimates are anywhere between 300–600.
"Valentina Vassilyeva . . . had 69 children, including 16 sets of twins, 7 sets of triplets, and 4 sets of quadruplets. That would have accounted for no less than 27 pregnancies between 1725–1765."
Sometimes it's not mom or dad getting all the publicity, but their bundle of record-breaking joy.
World's "Oldest Baby"
Some women enjoy their pregnancies, but there are a whole lot of them that kvetch, "When is this baby coming out?! It feels like it's been in there forever!"
All jokes aside, the average pregnancy is 280 days, roughly nine months. Beulah Hunter got pregnant in March of 1944. Her period stopped, a pregnancy test came out positive, and everything was going well. That is until nine months came and went, and 25-year-old Beulah remained pregnant.
In fact, three more months would go by before she gave birth to a perfectly normal baby weighing in at 6 pounds and 15 ounces. Her prenatal doctors said the pregnancy was normal but the baby had grown "exceptionally slowly," making her pregnancy possibly the only one to last all of a year, clocking in at 375 days.
World's Biggest Newborn
Anna Bates was a woman already known for her unusually tall stature, standing over 7 feet tall, so perhaps it's not surprising her baby took a record as well.
In 1879, after an ungodly 36 hours of intense labor, doctors literally pulled her 23 pound megababy out of her. Anna survived the ordeal, but her baby only lived for eleven hours. She never had any more children.
World's Tiniest Surviving Premature Baby
Medical technology has come a long way in taking care of premature babies. These early deliveries would often be considered doomed, but now there's a lot of hope to be found in these cases.
Still, when Kwek Yu Xuan was born, doctors were cautious. She gestated for only 25 weeks and came out measuring just 24 cm (9.4 in) long and weighing just 7.47 oz—less than half of a pound!
She underwent 13 months of intensive treatment, but eventually got her weight up and was released to go home with her mother, Wong Mei Ling.
The Oldest and Youngest Parents
At the beginning of this article, I asked how old a girl can be to get pregnant for the first time. Now I seek to ask the same of boys and to add an additional question, "How old can a parent be to have their last child?" These answers are some of the most shocking and controversial stories of our time, so proceed with caution.
Youngest Father on Record
What were you doing on your twelfth birthday? Playing with bugs? Reading Spider-Man comics? Teasing the girls for having cooties?
Apparently little Sean Stewart was too old for such nonsense. He had a girlfriend, 15 years of age, and they were together. Sean was only 11 years old when he got his girlfriend pregnant, and 12 years old by the time she was born. This exceptionally young British couple welcomed their new baby into the world on January 20, 1998 to a storm of likely unwanted publicity.
Youngest Mother on Record
Perhaps one of our most tragic stories today goes to a Peruvian girl named Lina Medina. At 5 years of age, in 1939, she was gathered up and brought to a hospital far from her village, because her family believed she had an abdominal tumor.
Upon closer inspection, doctors found the tiny five-year-old had fully developed breasts and had started having her periods when she was a mere three and a half years of age. And so, at five years of age, doctors performed a Cesarean section on her to get the baby out. Her tiny hips would have never been able to give birth otherwise.
The family brought the baby home and raised it as little Lina Medina's brother, not son. No one was ever prosecuted for fathering such a child. Thirty-three years later, Lina gave birth to her only other child, also a son.
Lina's story continues to intrigue and horrify though. While there's no way to tell for certain, doctors today theorize she may have had a problem with her pituitary glands. This could have been the reason she experienced full hormonal puberty while she was still a toddler.
Oldest Father on Record
This record goes to Ramjit Raghav who probably believed you're never too old to have more children! He witnessed the birth of his first child when he was a puzzling 94 years old! Then would go on to father his second child at the even more puzzling age of 96!
Raghav said that he was healthy enough to father a child at such an old age partly due to being a vegetarian his whole life!
Oldest Mother on Record
The field of medical fertility went a little awry when Maria del Carmen Bousada de Lara gave birth to twins on December 29, 2006. Why? Because with much help from fertility aids, she managed to get pregnant when she was a sprightly 67 years old!
Some Record-Breaking Grandparents
So now we've gone over all the amazing-record breaking moms and dads out there, and we've also seen some pretty impressive babies. But this still leaves one category open: the most record-breaking grand parents. This takes multiple generations of effort, and here they are in all their glory.
The life of a British boy by the name of Fale Wright was never going to be the same after his 14-year-old girlfriend gave him a son. Life went on and Fale did the best he could. But he was astounded and probably partially horrified to take on the title of the world's youngest grandfather no less than 14 years later when his son followed exactly in his father's footsteps. Fale was 29 years old and not particularly amused.
In yet another disturbing turn of events, the women in this category beat the boys once again, by a decade. How on earth is that possible?
Well, it's possible because Mum-Zi of Nigeria was only 17 when she took on the role of grandmother. She was one of the many women and girls who lived in a harem belonging to Chief Akkiri—and apparently when you have power, no one cares if you're a pedophile.
The reason I say this is because Mum-Zi gave birth to her first daughter when she was only eight years and four months old. Her daughter then went on to follow in her mother's foot steps exactly, giving poor Mum-Zi a grandbaby only eight years later.
Most "Greats" in a Grandparent
Augusta Bunge, a US citizen, held a world record when she witnessed seven living generations of her family, meaning that her last grandson called her great-great-great-great-grandma.
She was the youngest to carry on this seven-generation title, as she was only 109 and 97 days old when she saw this grandson born in January of 1989.
Sarah Knauss holds the opposing record, also seeing seven generations, as she's the oldest to do so at 119 years of age.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2009 Theophanes Avery
Kathryn Riley on March 01, 2018:
I hope all the other records are accurate but the oldest mother isn't. The Bible clearly states that Sarah was 90 when she had her child.
taffdancer on September 01, 2017:
Do you know what is the longest natural posthumous birth which has ever taken place?
Qwerty on January 17, 2017:
I don't understand why people are taking the abuse of children so lightly. The time and place have nothing to do with the fact that this abuse happened to young children.
Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on May 02, 2015:
My pleasure Theophanes. I agree. Pre-teens should be careful nowadays, when they have their period.
Theophanes Avery (author) from New England on May 01, 2015:
Thanks Kristen Howe! I don't know of that exact story but sadly I think it's one that might be slightly more common than one would like to think! Especially today with girls going through puberty earlier than in generations past. We still don't know why!
Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on May 01, 2015:
This was an interesting read with those human production facts and figures. I remember hearing on the radio, two decades ago, back in NJ,that a 10 or 12 year old girl was pregnant in Connecticut I believe. I don't know how she'd gotten pregnant, other than her parents raised the baby as their own. Voted up!
Theophanes Avery (author) from New England on August 02, 2014:
No problem, some of these stories are indeed a bit horrific, but they are what they are.
Carrie Lee Night from Northeast United States on August 02, 2014:
Very interesting :). Loved the Subject matter. Can't believe the youngest was only five years old. Amazing, yet disturbing. Thank you for sharing.
Rebecca Furtado from Anderson, Indiana on May 25, 2014:
Very interesting hub. I enjoyed reading it.
Elmo on December 27, 2013:
Just thought that I saw a family that I grew up with at 33 kids was a lot. Had to find out the record.
greenhairedgirl on November 24, 2013:
i feel so sorry for the 5 yr old girl... :-(
Theophanes Avery (author) from New England on October 21, 2013:
Thank you all for the comments. @DzyMsLizzy - that is quite a tale! I wonder if it's at all confusing to the kiddies! Probably not - children seem to take things at face value. :)
@Jeanne Southern: No one ever found out who the father of Lina's baby was. Sadly it was far more likely than not the result of an encounter with an adult than another early bird child. No charges were ever filed and the family, if they knew, never spoke of it.
jeanne southern on October 21, 2013:
Had to read it twice thought my eyes were deceiving me, 5 yr old pregnant,how can that be possible,no mention of the father though now that is just not fair
Levertis Steele from Southern Clime on September 15, 2013:
Wow! I am nearly speechless @ 8-year old mother and grandmother. What a very interesting hub.
Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on September 15, 2013:
Pretty amazing, huh? Who would have believed it....a father at 100??
It is always fascinating to me to read such information. thanks for sharing. Angels are on the way ps
Liz Elias from Oakley, CA on September 15, 2013:
Most interesting. I am reminded of a friend of mine who, some years back, became a grandmother for the first time at age 41, (not impossible or horribly abnormal in and of itselsf--but read on), when her second-eldest of 6 children became pregnant while in high school...(following her mother's footsteps)!
Where it gets "interesting," is that she had 3 more children of her own after that, and one of her other daughters also produced a grandchild. Then, the youngest daughter married a man who was divorced and had 3 kids for a 'ready made' family--but they added 3 more children of their own.
Next, my friend had still another child, and at that point, her own youngest was younger than any of her grandchildren! And THAT is the 'weirdest' thing I have ever come across.
Your article, however, was interesting, and indeed disturbing in places--I feel very sorry for the 'record holders' who became mothers during their own very young childhoods. Voted up and interesting.
Stephanie Henkel from USA on September 15, 2013:
Very, very interesting! What a fascinating collection of facts about baby births, young and old parents and multiple births!
marion langley from The Study on July 05, 2013:
Both fascinating and disturbing. On a note concerning longer than average pregnancy durations my mother and I both carry our babies a full 4 weeks late consistently and give birth to healthy weight girls we deliver naturally. My mother had three and so far I've had two. I am planning to be a mother all over again later in life but through adoption...cause pregnancy just isn't all that fun in my experience. :-) Thanks for writing!
Joshua Nyamache from Kenya on August 17, 2012:
There are things that disapprove scientists and leave us to believe in God. Human may fail to understand them like: World's Oldest Baby and Oldest Mother on Record.
Kitty on August 03, 2012:
Thx so much for this! I really enjoyed it. :)
Theophanes Avery (author) from New England on June 07, 2012:
Most of the children bearing children records were broken at a time when little was thought of it or in a different cultural setting (a foreign country by a king for example.) As far as I know none ever faced prosecution by law. Today if any of these girls were pregnant in the United States or many other countries there would likely be outrage and investigation as there should be. In no way is this article an endorsement of pedophilia. My sympathy goes to any and all victims of sexual abuse.
Spiritual love on June 07, 2012:
Did anyone get arrested for destoring these children. How sick is that. There will come a time when these men will stand before their maker and have to give an account for their actions. And that's when their body parts will testify against them unto God.
Nic on May 22, 2012:
Shame,at least the little girl,who was 5 didn't have 2 raise her child as well.So sad that she had to go through so much at such a young age.And then what about the lady,who had 27 pregnancies-wow,totally mad,how on earth did she cope?Financially&emotionally&all the lack of sleep?I've only got 2 kids,but these 2 woman are amazing!x
Loool on April 15, 2012:
I find it ironic that the most babies born to one women is "69" anyone else??
Theophanes Avery (author) from New England on April 13, 2012:
Sala: Most five year olds are WAY too young to conceive. When girls start to reach maturity their pituitary glands start releasing hormones like estrogen and others. These cause the girls to develop breasts and sometime after that they'll start to menstruate and be technically capable of conceiving. In this poor girl's case she either had a tumor pressing against the pituitary gland or something else went really off in her body and sent the signal to start releasing these adolescent hormones when she was only three years old. Basically the hormones made all her reproductive organs mature far faster than the rest of her body and her mind. Unfortunately since it was so long ago we'll probably never know what the exact medical problem was that she had, and since there's no known cases like this we can't even speculate particularly well.
jacqueline on March 28, 2012:
Mum-Zi (gave birth at age 8) was member of Chief Akkiri's harem on the island of Calabar, Nigeria. Her daughter also gave birth extremely early, making Mum-Zi a grandmother at age 15!
baby on March 26, 2012:
I'm only twelve and I really want to have a baby but I'm young and I think I'm.
Sala on March 15, 2012:
I stil dont understand why a girl of 5years can conceive.pls explain the medical terms involved
napajnibor on February 24, 2012:
Any answer for the elder with the most number living (how many times great) grandchildren at the end? Besides that, or any other Harem guy of course.
T on February 16, 2012:
As far as we know no humans have lived past 122 on record... maybe you should investigate or into this 135 year old person, because it not completely impossible that she is that old.
Shocked on February 15, 2012:
Wo pregnant at 5 that's to young!
Jessie on February 09, 2012:
This is a really good website there's a lot of information
Abdullahi usman on February 04, 2012:
Augusta is not the oldest great grand mama because i know a greatmama who is 135 years in Nigeria.
nick071438 from City of Catbalogan, W, Samar, Philippines on December 23, 2011:
This hub is educational. My knowledge about Peruvian Lina Medina increases. Take a look: http://www.webanswers.com/current-events/current-e...
inquiringmind on November 22, 2011:
Kee, the reason why there aren't more five year old mothers has nothing to do with the laws in 1939. Even today, young girls are routinely raped throughout the entire world. Children don't have babies because they're not biologically able, NOT because they're not being sexually abused (which unfortunately, the laws can't stop).
The fact is, Lina Medina had a baby because of an EXTREMELY RARE medical condition that other sexually abused children don't have. If all little girls hit puberty that frighteningly early, childhood pregnancies would skyrocket. It's sad, but true.
lola on May 29, 2011:
that kinda sucks for the people to be so young
Inspiration88 from this Galaxy on May 14, 2011:
Wow, funny, interesting and at times disturbing. LoL, the almighty strive for reproduction guides us! ;)
Kee on March 07, 2011:
You did notice that it was in 1939 for the youngest mother, rite? I understand it's a horrible thought but the good people who created the laws to stop such horrible thing may not have been born.
Reg on February 27, 2011:
The one thing I find most disturbing is the young age of girls having babies. Five and eight? Yet the youngest males (in the same catergories) are 12 and 28? There is no way a 5 year old consented to sex. This is why sex trafficking is becoming such a huge problem. It's so disgusting. Breaks my heart. :(
snyln on September 11, 2010:
great info. amaizing what a human body can do.
Kate on July 05, 2010:
sjfox66 on May 20, 2010:
Does anyone know the record for the most same sex births to one mother?
Theophanes Avery (author) from New England on December 29, 2009:
I don't know Matt but I suspect we'll have to wait for the kiddie golf tournaments in the next 5 or 10 years to find out. ;)
Matt on December 29, 2009:
Very interesting!!! How many children does Tiger Woods have running around?
jknee on October 19, 2009:
DAlfor from Redmond, WA on October 19, 2009:
Props to you for a great hub!
yapidude on September 22, 2009:
nice! nice! i've learned a lot!!
Gin Delloway on March 22, 2009:
I like your hub! nice! Thank you!!
Amy on March 02, 2009:
Well done Theo!
Roberta Kyle from Central New Jersey on February 19, 2009:
lots of interesting food for thought here--amazed at the variations that are possible with human reproduction.
Tom Cornett from Ohio on February 16, 2009:
Very cool Hub! Thanks!