The Most Amazing Human Reproductive Records
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!
· 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!) However this was the 1970s 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 1700's and was a peasant so we know very little about her but her name was Valentina Vassilyeva and she had sixty-nine children including sixteen sets of twins, seven sets of triplets, and four sets of quadruplets. That would have accounted for no less than twenty seven 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 went onto to further fame after she died he married a second wife where he sired 18 more children bringing his personal record up to 87 children. What ever 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 five hundred wives. When he died in 1727, at the age of 81, he was said to have left around eight hundred heirs. FWEW!
. 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 Horlocke probably can. She gave birth to triplets for one family but this wasn't enough. She would continue being a surrogate until she birthed twelve babies, none of which were 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 it's 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.
News Footage of Current Biggest Baby at Birth
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 until nine months came and went and twenty-five 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 six 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.
· Worlds Biggest Newborn: Anna Bates was a woman already known for her unusually tall stature, standing over seven 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 Amillia Sonja Taylor was born doctors were cautious. She'd been born after only twenty two weeks of pregnancy. It was October 24, 2004 and she was just nine and a half inches long, a real paperweight as she didn't even make it to the ten ounce mark on the scale. She spent a good long time in the hospital, four months in all, but was released and survived to go home.
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 eleventh birthday? Playing with bugs? Reading Spider Man comics? Punching the girls for having cooties? Apparently little Sean Stewart was too old for such nonsense. He had a girlfriend, fifteen years of age, and they were together. Sean was only eleven years and one month old when he got his girlfriend pregnant. 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 five 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. Although 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 another Australian who probably believed you're never too old to have more children! He witnessed the birth of his last child when he was a puzzling ninety three years old. Les Colley was his name and he had been a miner in his youth. He got to see his child grow up a little but not too much as he passed away at the age of 100.
· 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 sixty seven 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.
Youngest Grandfather - The life of a British boy by the name of Fale Wright was never going to be the same after his fourteen 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 fourteen years later when his son followed exactly in his father's footsteps. Fale was twenty-nine years old and not particularly amused.
Youngest Grandmother - 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 seventeen 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 grand baby 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 ninety seven days old when she saw this grandson born in January of 1989. Sarah Knauss holds the opposing record, also seeing seven generations, she's the oldest to do so at 119 years of age.
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© 2009 Theophanes