Human Interest

Baby ‘bump’: COVID-19 pandemic causing regional boosts in birth rate

newborn

Depending on the lockdown measures put in place nine months ago in various cities and states around the U.S., some areas of the country may soon experience their own regional baby “bump,” as The New York Post referred to it. Despite predictions that there would be no baby boom due to COVID-19, many couples added babies to their families in 2020.

Cities such as Baton Rouge and New York are expected to see an increase in births between now and April 2021, reported NBC. But states such as Florida, where long COVID-19 lockdowns never really took effect, are not expected to welcome more babies than usual.

“So far the numbers are slight, up between two and eight percent,” noted NBC. “But historically, birth rates decline during tough economic times. Not so during this pandemic.”

 

 

Cheri Johnson, Chief Nursing Officer at Woman’s Hospital in Baton Rouge, told NBC they were anticipating fewer births this year compared to last year, and are surprised to instead be expecting 200 additional babies due to be born over the next four months. “It’s certainly higher than what we’ve seen of late,” she said.

Meanwhile, Dr. David Keefe, a fertility specialist at NYU Langone Health in New York City, said, “It’s a boom time here. I think for many people this pandemic has sort of forced a reconciliation of what really matters.”

READ: Study: U.S. population growth is at lowest rate since last worldwide pandemic

In a typical year, Northwell Health, New York’s biggest hospital network, sees about 30,000 births. In 2021, they are expecting 750 more. They began seeing an increase in patients back in May, about six to eight weeks after the city went into lockdown.

The birth rate increase is also being felt around the world. Doctors at Belgium’s largest maternity unit expect to welcome at least 400 more new babies than usual in the coming months. “We usually cannot trace such booms back to an exact period, but that figure of 400 to 500 is a prognosis based on the pregnancy cases currently underway,” Dr. Johan Wiemeersch told The Brussels Times. A second wave of babies is expected nine months after Belgium’s second lockdown, which took place in November. The Philippines also expects a baby boom of their own.

Some couples like Patrice Jones and husband Oliver took the lockdown as an opportunity to add to their family. Jones told NBC that having baby number three during the pandemic was a gift. “I think for us as a family, even though 2020’s been really hard, I actually look at 2020 through rose-colored glasses now that he’s around,” she said of her newborn son.

The Brookings Institute predicted there would be 300,000 to 500,000 fewer births in 2021, but has since changed this estimate, saying it will likely be closer to 300,000. Though experts maintain there will be more of a baby bust than a baby boom in 2021, the increase in births in some areas of the nation offer hope for families who now have something amazing to look forward to in 2021.

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