Mother Gives Birth to Identical Triplets in One in 30 Million Phenomenon

A woman in Italy has given birth to identical triplets, doubling the size of her family overnight in what is thought to be a one in 30 million phenomenon.

The mother, only identified as Vittoria, gave birth to her daughters Marisol, Clarissa and Ginevra in late November, after she fell pregnant unexpectedly, Italian newspaper La Repubblica reported. When she first started feeling unusual, she thought she had COVID, but tests revealed she was in fact pregnant with triplets.

Vittoria gave birth seven months into the pregnancy via an emergency c-section, and her and her partner Mario's triplets were kept in hospital for 40 days.

Marisol, Clarissa and Ginevra were born underweight at 1,100, 1,200 and 1,400g (2.4, 2.6, and 3lbs), respectively. On average, newborn babies weigh 7.5lb, but between 5.5 and 10lb is considered normal.

The family of three, which previously included father Mario and the couple's four-year-old son Pierfrancesco, has doubled in size to six members since the girls' arrival.

The triplets came from the same fertilized egg, and are so hard to tell apart their aunt has made bracelets to differentiate between them.

While having identical triplets is rare, Vittoria is not the first woman to have this experience. Last February, Katie Craw from the U.K. also doubled the size of her family when she gave birth to identical triplets, Tommy, Joshua and Eddie. And in 2018, Nicole Choge from Kansas gave birth to her identical sons Ron, Elkanah and Abishai.

How do identical triplets happen?

Identical triplets occur when a sperm fertilizes an egg, which divides into three, or divides into two and one of those halves splits again. This forms three embryos with the same genetic material. This process always results in babies of the same sex.

In contrast, regular triplets are usually the result of parents using fertility treatments, as several fertilized eggs can be inserted into the uterus, and several may become viable.

Indentical triplets are known as monozygotic because they all come from one egg. Mono means "one," while "zygote" is the name for a fertilized egg.

Having triplets, whether monozygotic or not, can carry certain risks, including giving birth earlier than 37 weeks, developing gestational diabetes or hypertension, anemia, and severe morning sickness known as Hyperemesis gravidarum.

Triplets are often delivered via c-section, as was the case for Vittoria and Craw. Choge, however, did not have a c-section.

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A stock image shows the feet of three newborn babies. A woman in Italy has given birth to identical triplets. Getty