Rare identical triplets born in Austria

VIENNA Wed Aug 8, 2007 12:56pm EDT

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VIENNA (Reuters) - A British woman has given birth to identical triplets in Austria, something that occurs only once in every 200 million births, doctors said on Wednesday.

Named Zoe, Kim and Amy, the girl triplets were delivered by Caesarean section on Monday in their mother's 32nd week of pregnancy, a few weeks premature, a statement by the main hospital in Feldkirch in western Austria said.

The tiny trio, each weighing in at 1,500 grams (3.3 pounds) and measuring 40 cm (15.7 inches), were doing well although they would remain attached to respirators in the intensive care unit for several weeks to ensure no complications set in.

The triplets were conceived naturally, without fertility treatment, by the 25-year-old mother, who lives in the area with her Austrian partner, a hospital spokeswoman said.

"This was a whim of nature," Peter Schwaerzler, head of the hospital's gynaecological unit, told Austrian news agency APA.

What was rare about the birth was that the original egg split into two and one of these cells split again during the initial days of the pregnancy, then all three developed without deformities or other complications.

Only two of three triplets are identical siblings in most cases.

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