In a rare case, a woman in Uganda has been banned from conceiving any more, after giving birth to 44 children.
Mariam Nabatanzi has been dubbed ‘the world’s most fertile woman’ by locals after she managed to give birth to four sets of twins, five sets of triplets and five quadruplets.
But, doctors in Uganda have banned Nabatanzi from giving birth to any more children, according to Al Jazeera documentary quoted in Reuters.
The single mother, who earlier this year was the subject of an Al Jazeera mini-documentary, works a handful of jobs to take care of her 38 living children.
Nabatanzi works as a tailor, hairdresser, herbalist, and collecting and selling scrap metal to support her family, and has said that, above all, she wants her children to receive an education. The money is swallowed up by food, medical care, clothing and school fees.
Her ability to conceive so many multiples is due to genetic make-up. It results from specific genetic variations that are inherited. It includes cases when a woman ovulates more than once serially as well as when more than one ovum is released thus increasing chances of more than one being fertilised.
Dr. Chales Kiggundu, a gynaecologist interviewed in the documentary, said Nabatanzi’s incredible number of pregnancies were the result of hyperovulation, which is when the body releases more than one egg during the menstrual cycle.
The phenomenon increases a woman’s chances of having twins, triplets or quadruplets.
“You find that some of the women have the potential of having between 10 to 12 eggs that come at the beginning of the month,” Kiggundu said. “Some of them have the potential to have more than one fertilization take place.”
Nabatanzi has made attempts to stop having children in the past, including using an IUD after her 18th baby was born, Reuters reported. However, the device made her so sick that she went into a coma.
Her parents died when she was 7 years old and her stepmother married her off to 40 year old man at the age of 12. Mariam first gave birth a year after getting married, to twins. Two years down the line, she again gave birth this time to triplets and months later she got quadruplets!
Her husband was absent for long periods of time throughout the marriage, but finally walked out for good (abadoned her) following her last pregnancy two-and-a-half years ago. It was a complicated delivery and one of the twins – the sixth set – died in childbirth. Five other children have died over the years, but 38 survive.
Caveat: The world record of birthing 69 children belongs to a Russian peasant from the 1700s who reportedly had 16 pairs of twins, seven sets of triplets and four sets of quadruplets — a total of 69 children from 27 pregnancies.