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Pandemic baby boom a bust as hospitals see birth rate decline

Published: May. 10, 2021 at 12:04 PM MST|Updated: May. 10, 2021 at 12:08 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The expected pandemic baby boom is looking more like a bust.

There was speculation we’d see a rise in babies born with more couples at home during COVID-19. It looks like the opposite has happened as national and state data shows a decline in birth rates.

Director of Midwifery Greta Gill said the uncertainty of COVID-19, fear of catching the virus during pregnancy and financial hardship may be to blame. She’s seeing a 10% birth rate decline in southern Arizona.

“I think that people are having fewer children and really planning,” she said.

Arizona had about 1,500 fewer babies born in the first three months of this year compared to 2020, according to data from the Arizona Department of Health Services. Associate Professor Sabrina Helm, at the University of Arizona, said this trend is common in times of change.

“Any time there is a major crisis, whether it be war or famine and so forth, there tend to be declining birth rates for a time, but they tend to rebound. How that’s going to be with COVID? Crystal ball. I do not know,” she said.

Gill said she expects the decline to continue as more families decide to have fewer kids.

“We year over year have had slight decreases in the number of babies being born,” she said.

Research at the UA found a link between climate change and whether people have children.

“They think that the environment is going to continue to deteriorate. A lot of doom scenarios. Is it responsible to bring another child into the world?” Helm said.

Some people said having a baby only adds to the carbon footprint, while others think of children as a motivator to help the environment.

“Why would we even think about doing something about climate change and counteracting what’s going on if it were not for the benefit of our children? So there were also expressions of hope,” Helm said.

The CDC reported the U.S. birth rate declined in 2020 for the sixth straight year.

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