At 19 Kids, the Duggars Say They're Still Open to More

The Duggars’s 19th child, Josie Brooklyn, is still in intensive care fighting for her life, having been born dangerously premature and weighing a scant 1lb, 6 oz. at her Dec. 10 birth. But parents Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar, of TLC’s show 19 Kids and Counting, still say they are open to having more children, according to People magazine.

“When I say we would love more children, we open ourselves up for attack,” says Michelle, 43. But, she adds, people shouldn’t be so quick to judge. “Only one person can live the life that I live, and that is me,” she says.

While what Michelle is saying may be true from a philosophical standpoint, one has to question whether having so many children is safe for -- or fair to --- any future babies or their mother. And many are indeed asking that question. The TLC broadcast of the Duggars’ birth of Josie attracted more than 3 million viewers, but not all those viewers are fans. The Internet chat rooms of parenting sites and medical community sites have been afire with comments from people condemning the couples’ willingness to bring more children into the world.

“I think that’s too many kids,” says Dr. Douglas Downey, a general surgeon based in Florida, in People. “From a family resource perspective, there is no way you can give the emotional and financial resources you would need to support that many children.”

The problems in this pregnancy began when Michelle was diagnosed with preeclampsia, or pregnancy-induced high blood pressure (a condition that could pose a risk to any subsequent pregnancies). Michelle became pregnant with Josie just six months after the birth of her previous child, Jordyn-Grace. “The average woman isn’t able to handle such a high number of pregnancies,” says Dr. Jeffrey Richardson, an obstetrician who has practiced for 30 years. “The risks of additional pregnancies start to go up dramatically after four,” he says, adding that postpartum hemorrhage, dysfunctional labor, preterm labor and early miscarriage are all risks. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends spacing out pregnancies by at least 18 months to avoid risks for mother and baby.

But the Duggars don’t use any contraception, their belief being that “each child is a gift from God.”

Meanwhile, Josie, born at 25 weeks' gestation, continues to fight for her life. She is recovering from a bowel perforation and now weighs more than 2 pounds. The Duggars say they plan to focus on their premature baby (cared for in a Little Rock, Ark., neonatal ICU) for the next year. “Josie has been off the ventilator for two weeks now, and they are increasing her feeds little by little,” says Jim Bob, 44. “We pray that she grows strong.” Adds Michelle: “It is not as if we’re going for another [baby] immediately. This is going to be a year of different focus for me, getting Josie through her first year of life.”

Plus: Duggars and Their 19th Can Count on Fans

Do you think the Duggars are making the right decision by staying open to having more kids? Chime in below!

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