WASHINGTON -- After two months in the newborn intensive care unit, most of the Qahtani septuplets are gaining strength and weight, and some could be sent home this month, Georgetown University Hospital officials said Friday.
Three of the seven have been upgraded to fair condition and moved to the unit's "stepdown" ward, where the babies do not need quite as much monitoring.
Of the other four, three were upgraded Friday from critical to serious condition and soon could be moved to stepdown care, said Georgetown's chief neonatologist, Siva Subramanian.
One baby remains in critical condition and on a ventilator because he has been beset by abdominal infections. He may remain in the hospital until November or December, the doctor said.
The septuplets -- five boys and two girls -- were born by Caesarean section July 12, about 11 weeks shy of a full-term pregnancy. Each weighed 2 to 2 1/2 pounds. Since then, they have been on and off of mechanical ventilators to help them breathe, and several were treated to close blood vessels that link the heart and lungs because they did not close properly after birth. Some also fought staphylococcus infections on the skin.
The babies are to be sent home when doctors consider them stable and capable of being sustained with mother's milk and nutritional supplements, he said.
The septuplets were conceived last winter during a treatment for infertility called ovulation induction, in which the mother is injected with hormones to stimulate egg production.
When the Qahtani babies are released, they will go with their parents to a single-family home in Vienna, Va., that was rented recently by the government of their home country, Saudi Arabia.
Fahad Qahtani, his wife and their son, 9, now live in an apartment and plan to take possession of the house in a few weeks, the father said.
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