By Dave Warner
ABINGTON, Pa (Reuters) - Toddler Julianna Carey may not have much longer to mount a defense of her toy box after the birth of sextuplet siblings Emma, Samantha, Olivia, John, Patrick and Connor head home.
Doctors at Abington Memorial Hospital and parents of the babies spoke to the press on Monday for the first time since the babies were born on June 1. Doctors said that while the babies were in critical condition, they were responding to treatment and were expected to remain at the hospital for about three months.
"Their conditions are fragile and can change minute to minute," said Dr. Gerard Clearly, a neonatologist.
The three girls and three boys were born on June 1 in less than eight minutes with the help of an enormous medical team, said Stephen Smith, a perinatologist, at a press conference.
Each weighed about 2 pounds, a size that carries with it a high mortality rate, but they have been responding well to ventilators and nutritional support.
They are the children of Stacey, 33, and Brendan Carey, 41, who live in a four-bedroom home in Feasterville, a Philadelphia suburb. Until last week, the Carey's daughter, Julianna, 16 months, was an only child.
"Our family of nine is now complete," Stacey Carey said at the press conference. "We were not expecting a family this big."
Carey, who became pregnant after undergoing fertility treatments, said she was hospitalized about six weeks before the births.
"It's just been a long process," she said. "We have a long road ahead."
Dr. Smith said he first saw Mrs. Carey when she was eight weeks pregnant and that she already knew by then that she was carrying six babies, an extremely rare occurrence.
Mathematically, less than one set of sextuplets are born in the United States each year.
Doctors described preparations for the birth in terms that rang with military precision -- the babies were initially labeled A through F, each one was color coded for identification, and each had his or her own team of specialists. They were delivered by Caesarean section.
"We were very prepared and practiced drilling a number of times," Dr. Clearly said.
(Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Greg McCune)