Hospitals: Birth Rates Up Nine Months After Last Fall's Government Shutdown

Saturday, 12 Jul 2014 07:09 PM

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Nine months after the government shutdown ended, hospitals in Washington, D.C., are seeing a lot of patients — in maternity wards.

Hospital official aren't calling it a baby boom, but there's no denying the nurseries have been filling up more quickly than usual since April, reports ABC News.

At Sibley Memorial Hospital, there have been three births more than normal every day in July alone, said spokesman Gary Stephenson, and at Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington, 99 more babies were born in April, May, and June than were born during the same stretch last year, spokeswoman Maryanne Boster said.

"I can say that I've definitely seen spikes after things like hurricanes, blackouts and blizzards,” said Dr. Jennifer Ashton, ABC News’ senior medical contributor, a practicing OB/GYN.

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"I’m not aware of any hard data on this, but anecdotally, many obstetricians will ask their patients about the events nine months prior, and many women will say 'Yes, we conceived during the blackout,'" Ashton said.

Not everyone believes the apparent baby boomlet is linked to the two-week shutdown.

"It’s just so appealing to think, 'Oh, it’s a full moon,' or 'it's nine months after a blackout or Hurricane Sandy,'" said Dr. Marjorie Greenfield, chief of obstetrics and gynecology at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland, told ABC. "But there’s a lot of natural fluctuation."

Greenfield said she's often seen fluctuations in birth rates during her practice, and there are many things that play into a pregnancy. There would have been a small proportion of furloughed couples fertile when the shutdown was going on, she said.

And while a baby boom link would be a "sexy topic," Greenfield said they don't happen.
But that doesn't keep the off-color jokes from happening.

On NBC Nightly News Thursday night, anchorman Brian Williams cracked a joke about the increased births.

"How long until someone on television points out that during the shutdown the folks in Washington are apparently doing at home what Washington has been accused of doing to the American people?" said Williams. "We're guessing someone will say that on television before long."

Even though some experts discount the possibility of a baby boom, other doctors say that there are definitely spikes in births after some events when couples are trying to find other ways to fill their time.

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