The New Baby Boomers

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DES MOINES: The Iowa septuplets look set to make history as the first surviving seven-baby birth and heaven forbid one of them should fail. The nation, indeed the world has become so involved in the progress of this plucky litter of prematures since their birth Wednesday that the loss of one of their number would feel like a grief on the scale of Diana. Not to fear, however neonatologist Dr. Robert Shaw pronounced Bobbi McCaughey's brood "warm, pink and comfortable."

They'd better be sitting comfortably when the find out how much their little lives are about to cost. A conservative government estimate suggests raising seven kids in the middle income Midwest will cost $761,000 and that's before college.

But with the amount of publicity the story has generated, the McCaugheys should easily cover their costs by then. From their home town of Carlisle (which offered a year's worth of groceries) to the state of Iowa (which is building the baby-booming family a new house) to multinationals like Proctor and Gamble (who gave a lifetime supply of Pampers), all of America seems to be pitching in. Not surprising, then, that proud dad Kenny's first comment was simply: "Wow!" As any father will tell him, now comes the difficult part: the first eighteen years.