Katalina Martin with her quadruplets, who were conceived from four separate fertilized eggs.
A set of quadruplets in England is making headlines, and not just because the two boys and two girls are so adorable. The quads defied the odds, as each baby came from a different egg, without the help of in vitro fertilization (IVF).
Amelia, Sofia, Aston, and Roman were born in late February to Katalina Martin and Matthew Davis. Martin and Davis each have a child from a previous marriage, but they told the Daily Mail that they wanted one more — instead, they got four.
Martin, a 28-year-old hairdresser, and her husband had lost some hope of adding to their family when she was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), according to the Daily Mail. But a few months later, Martin discovered she was pregnant and, during a prenatal scan, got the surprise of her life. “‘The sonographer was scanning me for ages and kept peering at the screen,” she said. Then Martin was told to expect four babies. “I just burst into tears. I didn’t take it in at first.”
At 30 weeks pregnant, Martin gave birth to the quads via C-section. The babies’ weights ranged from 2 lb. 13 oz. to 3 lb. 11 oz. “I couldn’t believe when I saw them lying there in their cots. They all came from a different egg … and they have different personalities,” Martin told the Daily Mail.
In most cases of naturally conceived quadruplets, at least one pair of the siblings comes from one egg that splits into two during the earliest stages of development. But in Martin’s case, the quads were conceived from four different eggs. “The odds of spontaneously releasing four eggs at one time without any medication is less than one in a million,” Eve Feinberg, MD, medical director at Fertility Centers of Illinois’s Center for Fertility Preservation, tells Yahoo Parenting. Feinberg, who did not treat Martin, suspects she may have taken fertility medication for her PCOS that spurred her to release multiple eggs, and then conceived via intercourse. “PCOS is a disorder where, due to hormone imbalances, women do not release an egg every month even though their ovaries have a high density of eggs within. The dangers of fertility medications is that they may cause the release of multiple eggs at one time and increase the risk of [multiple births].”
Carrying multiples, especially three or more, constitutes a high-risk pregnancy, and Feinberg says it’s unlikely even with IVF these days. “Multiple births with IVF have actually decreased because we are better able to control the number of embryos we place back into the uterus,” she says. “The use of fertility drugs without IVF has a higher risk for multiples, especially high-order multiples [since the drugs can trigger multiple eggs to be released]. So while technically this is possible, it is much more probable that she used some type of fertility drug to stimulate the ovaries.”
No matter how the adorable quadruplets were conceived, they are a rarity in the U.K., where only three or four sets of quadruplets are born every year, according to the Daily Mail. And Martin is just happy to be the mother of four happy and healthy infants. As she explains, “I was so relieved when they were all born safe and well.”