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US Hospital Sponsors Multi-Birth Medical Center
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A Chicago-based hospital has agreed to co-sponsor a medical center for multiple-births in the central China's Hunan Province, the first of its kind in the land of the only child.

The center would improve the chances of survival for multiple-birth babies, most of whom are born premature, underweight and vulnerable to infections or systemic malfunctions, said Zhu Yimin, president of Hunan Provincial Children's Hospital.

He said the center would closely follow the infants' growth and provide guidance to ensure their sound physical, mental and behavioral development until they are 18.

The center would be co-sponsored by the Provincial Children's Hospital and the US Advocate Hope Children's Hospital in Chicago, said Zhu.

The two hospitals would exchange personnel, share resources and consult in the diagnosis and treatment of serious illnesses, said Rabi Sulayman, chairman of pediatrics at the US hospital.

China and the United States had both reported a surge in multiple-births and it was crucial to strengthen hospitals' treatment capacity, said Sulayman as he toured the intensive care unit of the Hunan hospital.

More Chinese women are reportedly exploiting easy access to fertility treatments to avoid the country's one-child limit, leading to a boom in multiple births.

Though no exact figures are available, media reports have said the number of twins born annually has at least doubled nationwide. The trend is fueled by the availability of fertility drugs in clinics and pharmacies.

China adopted "One-Child Policy" since the late 1970s, hoping to control its ballooning population, which stands at 1.3 billion now. However, there are no penalties for multiple births.

Hunan Provincial Children's Hospital is known for helping an abandoned baby with "mermaid syndrome" survive for nearly 40 days without a kidney last year.

The unnamed boy's legs were connected from his heels to his groin, a result of a rare congenital defect known as sirenomelia, which occurs in one in every 70,000 births. He died of heart failure in mid December.

The hospital created another miracle last year by helping a premature baby weighing only 500 grams at birth to survive. He was the only survivor of triplets born in the 29th week of pregnancy.

(Xinhua News Agency March 24, 2007)

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