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The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — America’s second surviving set of septuplets — five boys and two girls — were in critical condition Friday at a Washington hospital, where doctors described them as tiny but perfectly formed and “beautiful.”

The babies were delivered by Caesarean section Thursday night and whisked to an intensive care unit at Georgetown University Hospital. They were expected to remain hospitalized for weeks, and a team of specialists is assigned to each infant.

The mother, who chose to carry the risky pregnancy “as far as she could,” was resting comfortably, doctors said Friday. The woman, who asked not to be identified, conceived the babies after taking fertility drugs.

Her first glimpses of the babies were in photographs that she clutched to her breast. Hospital spokeswoman Karen Alcorn said the mother saw the septuplets later in the day Friday.

“We are not out of the woods in terms of the babies,” said Dr. Craig Winkel, chairman of Georgetown’s obstetrics and gynecology department. But he added, “It is a great start.”

“The babies are expected to be in critical condition for the next few days,” said Dr. Siva Subramanian, chief of premature infant care at Georgetown.

But he described them as “beautiful babies.”

“Every part is tiny, but all formed properly,” he said. “They are all small.”

Winkel said their hands could just barely encircle one of his fingers.

Their condition had not changed Friday evening, Alcorn said.

Lynette Philip, a director of delivery room nursing, described the mother as “a very serene individual.”

“The main thing that made her feel comfortable was the feeling that God was going to help her,” said Dr. Mutahar Fauzia, the woman’s personal physician.

The babies were born after 281/2 weeks. A full-term pregnancy is typically about 40 weeks.

Six of the babies required ventilators to help sustain their breathing rate. The seventh and smallest, a girl, was able to breathe on her own. The other girl briefly required a drug to strengthen her blood pressure.

Doctors said the babies weighed between 2 and 2.4 pounds. A healthy, mature birth weight is 5.5 pounds or more. The infants were between 13 and 14 inches long.

Winkle said the parents had named each of the children, but had asked that their identities and those of the babies be kept secret. Doctors referred to the infants alphabetically, A through G.

Copyright 2001 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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