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Report: McCaughey Septuplets Ill

November 9, 1999

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) _ Two of the McCaughey septuplets have developmental problems that affect their ability to walk, the Ladies’ Home Journal reports.

As they approach their second birthday, Brandon, Joel, Kenny, Kelsey and Natalie _ who like their two other siblings were born Nov. 19, 1997 _ are all talking and walking.

But Nathan’s lower body and leg muscles have been rigid since birth, the magazine said in its December issue. And Alexis has little strength in her trunk. Neither can walk or sit up without help.

Last month, the Journal said, doctors diagnosed Alexis with hypotonic quadriplegia, a disorder that causes weakness in all four limbs. Nathan was diagnosed with spastic diplegia, which causes uncontrolled muscle tightening in his legs.

Tests found that both children have areas in their brains that are underdeveloped.

Therapists work with the children two days a week.

``You never want your kids to have to face anything hard, but at the same time, it could be a lot worse,″ said Bobbi McCaughey, the children’s mother. ``If they do their therapy and exercise, it won’t get any worse than it is now, and it could get much better.″

Both toddlers wear plastic leg braces to bend their ankles and stretch their back leg muscles. Nathan gets around the family’s five-bedroom home in Carlisle with what his mother calls a ``scooch,″ a half-crawl on his belly. Alexis pushes herself with her legs while lying on her back.

Alexis and her sister Natalie also suffer from digestive problems that cause them to vomit frequently.

Some of the septuplets have other relatively minor health concerns. Kenny may need glasses, and Joel probably will undergo surgery to correct a muscle condition that causes one of his eyes to drift and cross.

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