Because of a rare condition, woman has become the world's most prolific mother
By: April Carson
A woman who holds the world record for having the most children was told by physicians that if she stopped giving birth, she would have severe health problems.
Mariem Nabatanzi had given birth to 44 children by the age of 40, with no family planning methods proving effective for her. Nabatanzi was diagnosed with a rare condition that made her produce high levels of the hormone prolactin, which is responsible for lactation.
Mariem from Uganda, East Africa, has given birth to four sets of twins, five sets of triplets, and five sets of quadruplets. She has only ever given birth to one kid.
Mariem had an enormous family of 38 children – 20 boys and 18 girls – to raise alone. Six of her children died. Her husband abandoned her and vanished with all the family money, leaving Mariem to care for all 38 kids.
She was married off when she was only 12 years old after her parents sold her, and shortly thereafter she gave birth to her first kid at the age of 13.
Mariem has an incredible story, one that is inspiring and heartwarming. Despite the challenges she's faced, she's been able to provide for her large family and give her children the best life possible.
Uganda has far higher fertility rates than the United States, where the average is 5.6 children per woman, according to the World Bank. That is more than twice the global average of 2.4 children.
In Uganda, it's 7.3 children per woman. The country also has one of the youngest populations in the world, with a median age of 15.4 years old. That's compared to 38.2 years old in the United States.
However, Mariem - nicknamed "Mama Uganda" in her country of origin - quickly discovered that she was not like other women.
She visited a health center when she had multiple pairs of twins, triplets, and quadrupeds. Mariem was told that she had abnormally large ovaries, which resulted in hyperovulation.
She was warned that birth control would not work and would most certainly cause significant health issues. Hyperovulation treatments do exist, but they are difficult to obtain in rural Uganda.
According to Dr. Charles Kiggundu, a gynecologist at Mulago Hospital in Uganda's capital Kampala, Mariem's extraordinary fertility was most likely due to hereditary factors.
“Her condition is a genetic propensity to hyper-ovulate –producing many eggs in one cycle– which significantly raises the risk of multiples,” he added.
Today, she is 43 and says that three years ago, she was advised to cease having children following her most recent delivery.
“It was God’s favor to want to give me so many children,” Mariem told the filmmaker Joe Hattab through a translator.
According to Mariem, doctors instructed her that she was too fertile and needed to give birth in order to reduce the number of eggs in her ovaries.
She was assured that no family planning technique would help her, and that she would only be able to “relieve” her body by giving birth.
"Severe ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome is rare, but it can be deadly," according to Mayo Clinic, a US private health business with offices throughout the world.
Other causes include fluid accumulation in the abdomen or chest, blood clots, kidney failure, ovarian twisting, and breathing difficulties.
All of her children were born of her frequently absent husband, who finally abandoned her in 2016, the same year she gave birth to her youngest child.
One of her sons stated to Joe Hattab that his mother is his “role model.”
Today, Mariem and her family reside in four tiny cement-block homes with corrugated iron roofs in a hamlet surrounded by coffee plantations 31 miles north of Kampala.
She informed Joe Hattab that a “nice lady” had given her children some bunk beds following her husband's departure, but it can still get tight, with 12 people in one room sleeping two to a mattress.
“All of my time has been spent caring for my children and working to earn money.”
Mariem has done everything possible to provide for her children, including cutting hair, mining scrap metal, distilling home-distilled gin, and selling herbal medicine.
She spends every cent she earns on food, clothing, medical care, and school fees.
“The father of my children is gone, I have had to do everything on my own.”
Mariem is proud of her children and her ability to provide for them, but she worries about their future.
“I want them to have a good education and a better life than I have had, but I know it will be difficult.”
Mariem's story is one of determination, hard work, and love. It is also a reminder that even in the face of extreme poverty, mothers will do everything they can to provide for their children.
According to legend, Valentina Vassilyev, an 18th-century Russian peasant, is the most fertile woman in history.
She had a total of 69 children between 1725 and 1765, 67 of whom survived infancy.
For a time, she held the Guinness World Record for most offspring, but it has since been surpassed.
Valentina's husband, Feodor Vassilyev, was a peasant from the village of Shuya in the Vladimir region of Russia. The couple had their first child when Valentina was just 16 years old.
This included 16 pairs of twins, seven sets of triplets, and four sets of quadruplets.
With his second wife, Feodor is said to have given birth to six pairs of twins and two triplets. This would imply he fathered a staggering 87 offspring.
However, unsurprisingly, poor record-keeping in 18th-century rural Russia made it difficult to obtain accurate estimates.
It's believed that Valentina Vassilyev's record for the most children ever born may never be broken. Until now. Mariem is the current world record holder for most children born to one mother.
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About the Blogger:
April Carson is the daughter of Billy Carson. She received her bachelor's degree in Social Sciences from Jacksonville University, where she was also on the Women's Basketball team. She now has a successful clothing company that specializes in organic baby clothes and other items. Take a look at their most popular fall fashions on bossbabymav.com
To read more of April's blogs, check out her website! She publishes new blogs on a daily basis, including the most helpful mommy advice and baby care tips! Follow on IG @bossbabymav
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