Baby bust: Births drop in 2020 despite talks of COVID baby boom

Financial, emotional, and medical concerns are believed to be behind the change.
Updated: Feb. 4, 2021 at 9:41 PM EST
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Doctors discuss possible pandemic baby boom.
Doctors discuss possible pandemic baby boom.(CNN)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - A baby bust is the opposite of a baby boom, and some believe that could be happening right now as COVID-19 continues to disrupt lives.

2020 numbers from Kentucky and Indiana are not yet available, but California, Arizona, Hawaii, and Ohio are reporting the number of babies born in 2020 is down a total of more than 50,000 from 2019, as reported by the Brookings Institution.

Financial, emotional, and medical concerns are believed to be behind the change.

”Those that are just thinking about becoming pregnant have a lot of concerns as well about how COVID could affect their pregnancy,” Dr. Edward Miller, the UofL Health Maternal-Fetal Medicine director, said. “Also, for the first time about how a lot of other things could affect their pregnancies. We have a lot of patients to of lost insurance, lost access to health care, so we’re having a lot more conversations with our non-pregnant populations about effective birth control measures.”

Expectant and new mothers described added stress after they became pregnant as COVID was forcing shutdowns and causing disruptions.

“Ultimately, just a fear and I think like the unknown of what happens being pregnant during a pandemic was a huge stress for me,” Laura Denham told WAVE 3 News.

Denham gave birth to baby boy in January.

The report from the Brookings Institution predicts COVID induced stress has produced a drop of 300,000 U.S. births in 2020 as people opt to wait for better times.

“The concerns they have about who can come with me to the labor and delivery suite, what would it happen if I turn positive if I’m in labor and delivery?” Norton Healthcare OB/GYN Dr. Kenneth Payne said. “All those questions add that layer of uncertainty.”

The Brookings Institution report also cites research showing the stress of COVID has led to people having less sex, and internet searches for baby related items have declined.

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