Penn State Hershey Medical Center awaits arrival of hospital's first sextuplets

The team of Penn State women's health obstetricians and Penn State Children's Hospital neonatologists at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center are preparing for the arrival of the first set of sextuplets in the medical center's 34-year history.

Kate Gosselin, 29, and her husband Jonathan Gosselin, 27, of Wyomissing, are anticipating the birth of their six new babies within weeks -- what may be only the second set of sextuplets ever born in Pennsylvania. The Gosselins also are the parents of 3-year-old twins.

"Although this is a very exciting time for the Gosselins and the medical center, we are very cautious of heightened expectations, due to the level of risk that goes hand-in-hand with high-order multiple births," said Dr. John T. Repke, chairman of the department of obstetrics and gynecology. "We have taken the past few months to prepare our obstetrics and neonatal team for dealing with various complications that may occur. Mrs. Gosselin is in the best of hands."

Any multiple pregnancy is considered high-risk. High-order multiple pregnancies, such as the Gosselins, come with even more risks. In addition to more calories, more rest and more intensive prenatal care needed by the mother, the risk of extremely premature delivery is of great concern. All high-order multiples on record have been born before 37 weeks of gestation. An infant is considered term only at 37 weeks. No case of sextuplets' births in the United States has gone past 31 weeks of gestation. Gosselin is approaching her 25th completed week.

Gosselin was admitted to Penn State Hershey Medical Center in early March. At a news conference Monday morning (April 5), the obstetrics and neonatal team discussed the extensive preparations being made to accommodate high-order multiple births.

"Good labor, delivery and newborn outcomes for high-risk infants and moms are invariably the result of close teamwork by the obstetric and neonatal nursing staffs, nutritionists and the physician specialists providing care of both mother and infants," said Dr. J. Joseph Botti, Gosselin's obstetrician. "In Mrs. Gosselin's case, the collaboration of Penn State Women's Health, Penn State Children's Hospital and the obstetric and neonatal nursing staffs has provided unique management responses to the unique challenge of this many babies. We are fortunate so far in having no major upsets in Mrs. Gosselin's condition and care, in no small part because of the extra effort of those involved with her care. Kate and Jonathan also have valuable support from their church and neighborhood community."

There have been more than 29,000 deliveries at Penn State Hershey Medical Center since October 1970. Approximately 1,300 babies are delivered per year at the medical center. In 2003, 28 sets of twins and six sets of triplets were delivered. The women's health unit houses five labor, delivery and recovery (LDR) rooms; one procedure room; one cesarean room; and 25 postpartum rooms.

"It will be an unprecedented challenge, but we are ready for the Gosselin sextuplets to arrive," said Dennis J. Mujsce, medical director of the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at Penn State Children's Hospital. "Challenges like this are the reason we exist. We in the NICU have taken the past few months to prepare for the babies, and we are ready to provide them with the highest quality care that we provide to all our newborns in the NICU."

Considering the history of premature deliveries, it is anticipated that the newborns will need the 24-hour intensive care of the NICU nurses and neonatologists at Penn State Children's Hospital for months following their delivery.

The NICU at Penn State Children's Hospital is a level III NICU. It houses 30 licensed beds, and admits more than 500 newborns each year. There are six board-certified, fellowship-trained neonatologists, five nurse practitioners and a team of neonatal nurses and specialists treating the tiniest of babies in the NICU. The Penn State Children's Hospital NICU serves as a referral center for nurseries and other NICUs throughout central Pennsylvania.

Kate Gosselin, a Hershey native, was born at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center in 1975. She is a registered nurse in labor and delivery at The Reading Hospital and Medical Center, where she completed nursing school.

"Medically, I'm glad we chose Hershey," said Jonathan Gosselin, the father-to-be, at Monday's press conference. "The staff is incredible. The doctors are incredible. Everybody has been catering to Kate."


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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