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Chances Are

October 18, 2010

Triplets in Postcards from the 1800's

You have a 1 in 8,000 chance of perishing in a car accident each year, and if you are a woman of child bearing age, you have about the same chance of giving birth to triplets.  The odds of dying in a plane accident are 1 in 10.5 million, however most of us fear flying more than driving, and most women don’t even think about the chance of ever having triplets.

I’m sure Jan and Katerina (Tot) Šuster never dreamed of cars, planes or triplets.  Yet on September 29, 1844, Katerina gave birth to the first set of triplets ever recorded in Pivnica, three girls named Judita, Katerina and Juliana. The chance of having multiple births increases with the age of the mother (Katerina was over 35) and the number of children (Jan and Katerina had had 6 children prior).

Slovak baby; Slovak family with twins taken by same photographer as the Milec family used about 100 years ago; US woman in 1850's with dead baby - common practice back then.

Throughout the 1800’s, the Šuster family rapidly expanded.  Štefan’s four surviving sons fathered a total of 29 children, of which 20 survived.  Many of those children went on to have 8 or 9 children themselves; Stefan would have had over 160 great grandchildren (of which the triplets were 3), with 100 reaching adulthood, assuming 2/3 of them survived. Štefan had no knowledge of the proliferation of life he spawned; he died in 1810, living long enough to see fewer than 10 grandchildren born.

Over 90% of triplets are born prematurely and often suffer serious health issues as a result. Sadly, Katerina died at the age of six weeks, and Judita three weeks after that. Juliana grew up to marry Michael Kladicom, had a family of her own and lived to the (then ripe old) age of 44.

A Russian woman in the 1700's had the largest number of kids on record- 69. Between 1725 and 1765, through 27 pregnancies she had 16 pairs of twins, 7 sets of triplets, and 4 sets of quads. 67 of them survived infancy.

One Comment leave one →
  1. October 19, 2010 2:22 pm

    Ida, Iva, and Eva are extremely cute. Love the statistical beginning to this piece, T.

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