The world-famous Malian nonuplets have celebrated their first birthday today, 4 May 2022.
The nine babies were born on 4 May 2021 and have now achieved the Guinness World Records title for the most children delivered at a single birth to survive.
The previous record was held by eight babies born to Nadya Suleman (USA) aka “Octomom” in 2009.
“They’re all crawling now,” their father, Abdelkader Arby, told the BBC. “Some are sitting up and can even walk if they hold on to something.”
Although he admits “it’s not easy”, Abdelkader is happy to see “all the babies in perfect health.”
The record-breaking babies are still in the care of the clinic in Morocco where they were born, along with their mother, 26-year-old Halima Cissé.
They are living in a specially-equipped flat owned by the clinic, where nurses are on hand to help care for Mrs Cissé and her nine babies.
A strict diet has also been put in place for the children to ensure they receive all the nutrients they require.
Nonuplets are extremely rare, and until the arrival of the Cissé children, no cases had been recorded of nine babies from a single birth surviving for more than a few hours.
The five baby girls (Adama, Oumou, Hawa, Kadidia, Fatouma) and four baby boys (Oumar, Elhadji, Bah and Mohammed VI) were born prematurely via Caesarean section on 4 May 2021, 30 weeks into Mrs Cissé’s pregnancy.
They each weighed between 500 g and 1 kg (1.1 and 2.2 lb).
Doctors in Mali initially thought that Mrs Cissé was carrying seven children, but two more were detected after the Malian government flew her to Ain Borja Clinic in Morocco to receive specialist care.
Shortly after the birth, Mali’s health minister, Dr Fanta Siby, announced that “the newborns and the mother are all doing well.”
In order to ensure their survival, the babies were immediately transferred to incubators and remained in the care of the clinic’s paediatric neonatologist Khalil Msaif for several months.
Doting husband Abdelkader, a sailor in the Malian Navy, remained in Mali during the birth to care for the couple’s three-year-old daughter, Souda.
In October 2021, he was able to reunite with his family and release the first photographs of the healthy babies.
“All of them are getting on very well and are a joy to look after,” Abdelkader said at the time.
Due to the risks associated with multiple births and premature births, the babies are remaining in the care of the clinic for now, where their development can be monitored.