LIMA — Are we seeing a baby boom or a baby bust in Allen County now that nine months have passed since people were urged to stay home during the pandemic?
It depends on who you talk to.
The preliminary number of births from Allen County residents in 2020 is down, according to statistics released from Allen County Public Health.
In 2020, there were 1,177 births compared to 1,259 in 2019. In 2018 that number was 1,241.
Dr. William Scherger, an OB/GYN on staff at Mercy Health-St. Ritas Medical Center, says they did not see a baby boom in 2020 as many had predicted.
“The baby boom was a predictor that happened when we went into COVID behavior in March with people staying at home and working from home. There was a speculation that in nine months we were going to have a baby boom, kind of like when we get a blizzard. What has really turned out with COVID, both locally and nationwide, it’s been more of a baby bust,” Scherger said.
At Lima Memorial Health System, doctors saw births increase between 2019 and 2020 and are actually predicting about a 20% increase in births as we get closer to spring.
“We’re expecting a higher surge just because of COVID. The COVID babies are just being born now. I would think that there’s a big surge come March, April,” said Dr. Rhonda Medina, an OB/GYN at Lima Memorial.
Medina suggests that problems getting into physicians during the early stages of the pandemic might factor into the expected number of births.
“A lot of people had missed their wellness checks throughout the year because of COVID. So they didn’t get their birth control refilled. So there was probably a four-month gap where some people didn’t have birth control,” Medina said.
Over at St. Rita’s, Dr. Scherger has some thoughts on why they are not predicting higher births.
“Lots of couples have rethought bringing babies into the world because of a financial situation that the pandemic has brought on, you know, ‘gosh, it’s just not a good time for us to try and afford a baby’.”
Another factor could be as couples remain in close proximity to each other for longer periods of time, they “like each other less,” Scherger said.
“I’ve read that about 38% of married couples reported less sexual activity in 2020, compared to before the pandemic. We know that anxiety and depression rates are almost doubled since the pandemic, When you’re depressed and anxious, you’re also not having sex,” Scherger said.
Women on long-term birth control could be another factor for fewer babies nationwide.
“For the past five years there has been a push, especially in single women and younger women and teens, to use long-acting reversible birth control … So yeah, that could very well be a factor.”
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.