After months of declining births linked to the early, uncertain days of the Covid-19 pandemic, a new study is predicting a baby boom starting this summer and lasting into the fall.
Using health records of pregnancies at their hospital, University of Michigan researchers predict that births will begin surging this summer to a rate higher than before the pandemic.
10%-15%. That’s how many more births researchers expect to take place at the hospital system this summer and early fall compared to a normal year. In contrast, there were 14% fewer conceptions in the months following the pandemic.
“During the time that the birth volume decreased, those conceptions dated back to right around the March 2020 shutdown,” said Molly Stout, the study’s lead author and director of maternal fetal medicine at University of Michigan Health Von Voigtlander Women’s Hospital. “Reproductive choices are influenced by all of the societal uncertainties that happen during a crisis.”
“It’s obvious that the surge is here,” said Stout of the predicted increase in births. “Our clinics are full to capacity.”
The study, which looked only at births at the University of Michigan hospital system, was not set up to be nationally representative and did not dig into demographic details. “I don’t have any reason to think that this is somehow unique to Michigan,” said Stout, who hopes to compare their findings to data from other states and nationwide.
More births at one large hospital system “might be related to more women choosing this system as compared to other providers,” said Hans-Peter Kohler, a demographer at the University of Pennsylvania, in an email. It could be that expecting parents worried about the pandemic switched, for example, from “providers with less robust Covid-19 protocols.” Stout said their data showed that the distance patients lived from the hospital system did not change over time, though, suggesting that they were not getting new patients driving from elsewhere.