The unnamed teacher and her husband are said to be ecstatic about the pregnancy, which was achieved with fertility treatment after they suffered two miscarriages. They are expecting six boys and six girls and the woman is thought to be as much as nine months’ pregnant.
But fertility experts have condemned the news, alleging the doctors who treated the couple are “irresponsible” and risking the health and lives of the mother and her babies.
It is not known what fertility treatment the woman had, but her husband was quoted by local papers as saying they had been expecting twins.
She is said to now be looking forward to hugging her babies and, according to her husband, has been told she can give birth naturally although experts say this is impossible.
The man, who was named only as Marwan and is a teacher of Arabic at a high school in their home town of Gafsa, southwest of the capital Tunis, told a local journalist the news was an “amazing and wonderful miracle”.
“In the beginning, we thought that my wife would give birth to twins, but more foetuses were discovered,” he was quoted as saying.
“Our joy increased with the growing number.”
But Simon Fisher, a fertility expert from the University of Oxford, said the news of the duodecaplets was “horrendous” and said the doctors involved were “irresponsible” to allow it.
He said the pregnancy could have been achieved either because the couple ignored the advice of doctors and had intercourse during their treatment, conceiving naturally as well as through IVF, or religious reasons required all the embryos to have been used rather than some being destroyed.