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This weekend, one big family in Mali celebrated more than just Mother’s Day. Halima Cissé and Abdelkader Arby’s nonuplets celebrated their first birthday.
The babies, five girls and four boys, were born weighing between just 1.1 and 2.4 pounds, at the Ain Borja clinic in Casablanca, Morocco. The family also has an older daughter.
And while the nonuplets were born prematurely, all nine babies are now thriving. In an interview with the BBC, Mr. Arby said, “They’re all crawling now. Some are sitting up and can even walk if they hold on to something.”
While the Arby nonuplets are the first living births of nine children, Black families often have “multiples,” known as twins or higher-order multiples. African-American women are more likely to have twins than any other race, according to the University of Rochester Medical Center.
Another famous set of Black siblings, the Harris family sextuplets, celebrated their six children graduating from high school in 2020. Other famous Black families with multiples include the Derricos, featured on TLC’s Doubling Down with the Derricos, who have four sets of multiples.
But the Arby nonuplets are special, the first set of nine living children born at once. They were born at 30 weeks, 10 weeks earlier than most single baby births, and were supported by a team of 30 nurses and doctors during and after their entrance into the world.
Their early births are also a familiar refrain for Black families, who are more likely to give birth prematurely than White families, according to the World Health Organization. Stress related to racism is one explanation for the disparities in birth outcomes between Black and White families.
Meanwhile, while the Arby children faced developmental difficulties from their early births, the pack of 9 are now growing up, surrounded by their family and supporters. Several of their nurses attended their birthday party.
The previous record holder for the most live births was “octomom,” Nadya Suleman, who gave birth to eight living children in 2009.