Duggar Baby Born Early Due to Pregnancy Complication

Michelle Duggar of TLC's "18 Kids and Counting" gave birth to Josie Brooklyn.

ByABC News
December 11, 2009, 10:38 AM

Dec. 14, 2009— -- Michelle Duggar's 19th child was born in an emergency C-section because Duggar, the star of the reality show "18 Kids and Counting," suffered from a rare, potentially life-threatening condition that causes high blood pressure, according to her doctor.

The condition known as preeclampsia, which occurs in about 5 to 8 percent of pregnancies, was discovered during Duggar's admission last week at the University of Arkansas for Medical Science to evaluate pain related to gall bladder disease.

"The obstetrical and neonatal teams reached the collaborative decision that Mrs. Duggar needed an emergency c-section to ensure the blood pressure problem would not be detrimental to her or the baby," Dr. Paul Wendel, director of the hospital's Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine, said in a statement released by TLC on Friday.

New baby Josie Brooklyn, born Thursday evening, weighs 1 pound 6 ounces and was in stable condition at the neonatal intensive care unit at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences as of Friday's statement from TLC.

TLC also reported that "Michelle is resting comfortably" while Josie Brooklyn stays at the neonatal intensive care unit, and that "the family is grateful for all the prayers and well wishes during their recovery."

"Michelle is recovering well from surgery," Wendel said.

Duggar's baby was not due until March, but TLC is reporting that Duggar went into the hospital early suffering pain from a gallstone. People magazine reported last week that Duggar had been airlifted to a hospital in Little Rock because her gallbladder problems were causing contractions.

Only 6 percent of babies are born so early. Most preemies make it the 33rd week of pregnancy and while most premature babies are at risk for health problems, risk for complications increases the earlier a baby is born, according to the March of Dimes.

Their organs are less developed in babies before 32 weeks gestation, but advances in obstetrics and neonatology have improved the chances of survival for babies as small as Josie Brooklyn.

Josie Brooklyn was born at 25 weeks and, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in June, babies born at 25 weeks who receive aggressive treatment through intensive care have an 82 percent chance of survival.

For now, Duggar's husband, Jim Bob, and 18 children will have to get along without Michelle and Josie Brooklyn.

In September, the Duggars announced that they were expecting their 19th child. Though they make raising a large family look like, well, child's play, adults who have grown up in Duggar-size families say it's a mixed blessing. Finding space to be alone is a challenge. Finding someone to play with is not.

There's also an environmental effect -- think carbon dioxide -- as well as health concerns for the mother. Women who've borne more than five children risk hemorrhage and even the loss of their uterus because repeated pregnancies sometimes thin the walls of the uterus, said Dr. Joanna Cain, an obstetrician-gynecologist in Providence, R.I.

Then there's always the possibility of one child getting lost in the passel of children.

Rachel Carroccio, a receptionist and ceramics teacher in Little Rock, Ark., knows that experience firsthand. The fifth-born of 10 children, Carroccio, now 28, recalled one time when her mother was in a hurry to get to the grocery store.

"We all piled into the minivan," she told ABCNews.com. "Mom counted heads to make sure everyone was there. As soon as she pulls forward, she sees my little brother Daniel riding his bike in front of us."

As it turned out, one of the heads was really the neighbor's.

But, for all the fond memories, she says the older girls in the family, including herself, burned out on caring for younger siblings and the house while her mother, often raising them alone, worked outside the home.

"None of us really want many kids," Carroccio said, referring to the girls. "My brothers, on the other hand, all want to have kids. I have one brother about to have his fifth child."

Those are among the sentiments the Carroccios like to share whenever all 10 -- ranging in ages from 11 to 37 -- get together for Thanksgiving and Christmas, their favorite time of the year.

Christmas was also a favorite time for Henriette Peters, the 11th child of 14, growing up in Crystal Lake, Ill., outside Chicago.