Picture: Robbie Reynolds

The country’s first – and only – quintuplets recently celebrated a milestone birthday, returning to the hospital they were born in to celebrate their big day.

The Cassidy quintuplets made their return to the Rotunda Hospital to visit the staff, who spent months caring for the siblings after they were born on August 16, 2001. They then spent a number of months in hospital, leaving that December.

The birth of the babies made national news and saw the five new-borns appear as tiny guests on The Late Late Show.

When their parents, Veronica and Kevin, went for scans early on in the pregnancy, they believed they were just having twins, but said that every time they went for another scan another baby was found.

Premature

Conor, Amy, Cian, Rory and Derbhail were born prematurely after just over 25 weeks’ gestation in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit of the Rotunda.

The babies weighed between 1lb 6oz and 1lb 11oz when they were born, and will sit their Leaving Cert next year.

Returning to the Rotunda for their 18th birthday, the ‘Famous Five’ were presented with a huge birthday cake and balloons in celebration of the day, where they met the midwives and doctors who helped with their delivery.

Master of the Rotunda Hospital, Professor Fergal Malone, said that there has been an increase in successful births of multiple babies in the past 20 years, but quintuplets remain a rare birth phenomenon.

He said: “There has been a 30% increase in the number of successful twin births in the past two decades, which is due to wider availability of assisted reproductive technologies and older maternal ages at conception.

“However, the number of triplets, quadruplet and quintuplet births has halved, due to more effective controls on assisted reproductive technologies.

“With multiple births, there is a 95% survival rate for twins, 70% for triplets, and 50% for quadruplets.

“It is clear, however, that quintuplets are very rare today, with the Cassidy quintuplets being the only set in Ireland, and the healthy survival rate of all five babies in a quintuplet pregnancy is quite exceptional.”