Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Rare identical triplets go home from hospital

Babies born without fertility treatments; some say odds are 1 in 100 million

NEW YORK - Forgive Kerry and Desmond Lyons if they sometimes mix up their sons' names. After all, they're brand new and look alike.

The rare set of identical triplets conceived without fertility treatments left a Manhattan hospital Tuesday for their suburban home.

Tiny newborns Kevin, Declan and Cormac Lyons rolled out of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center in style, wearing matching blue hats, asleep in a stroller that looked something like a stretch limo.

"We never thought we'd be leaving with three healthy, beautiful, amazing baby boys," Kerry Lyons said as she beamed and wiped away a tear. "We are just so, so grateful, and so moved and so happy."

Twins, triplets and quadruplets have become much more common over the past few decades because of fertility treatments, but identical triplets are still rare. Some scientists estimate they occur in as few as 1 in 100 million births. Others peg the number higher, at 1 in 500,000 or even 1 in 64,000.

On nearby Long Island, another set of identical triplet boys was born in February at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset; their parents used in vitro fertilization.

Whatever the odds, Lyons and her husband, Desmond, said they were thrilled with the outcome, even if they can't tell the boys apart yet.

"My suggestion was to put tattoos on them," joked their father. For now, they'll wear ID bracelets.

The triplets were born Friday by Caesarean section. Their father is a lawyer. Their mother works for an Internet advertising firm. The couple already has two children, ages 2 and 4.

Kerry Lyons said she gained 50 pounds during her 36-week pregnancy. A lot of that was baby; combined, the youngsters weighed a little more than 16 1/2 pounds at birth.

At home in Irvington, N.Y., the babies will share a crib for the time being, to keep them cozy.

As for the prospect of managing five children during an economic downturn, their mother said she isn't worried.

"I think this is God's way of turning me into an easygoing type," she said.

The most famous case of identical multiple births was that of the Dionne quintuplets, born in 1934 to in the small Canadian town of Callander, Ontario. At the time, they were the only known quintuplets to survive more than a few days, and the infants created a worldwide sensation.

The provincial government separated them from their impoverished parents and put in a specially built hospital — called Quintland — where over the years millions of tourists viewed them through one-way glass.

One sister, Emilie, died in 1954; another, Marie, died in 1970. The three other sisters eventually sued over the way they had been treated as children and received a $2.8 million settlement. Yvonne died in 2001, leaving just Annette and Cecile.

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