Thursday 29 July 2021

Coronavirus is affecting pregnancy and birth trends


One of the interesting social observations during the coronavirus era is the changes in trends for pregnancy and births. The era of the pandemic has apparently slowed down conception rates.


On the other hand the easing of lockdown may be heralding the start of a baby boom. Both of these trends relate to the U.S. economy, based on research conducted by the University of Michigan.


According to lead researcher Dr. Molly Stout: "Birth rates declined early on in the pandemic, but we expect a dramatic rebound soon.”


She is basing this on a review of electronic health records for a cohort of pregnancies. These analyses have enabled a model for pregnancy episodes to be developed, one that should stand up to other societal changes. The model offers a new perception on reproductive choices, population growth and fertility rates.


Interestingly, similar patterns were observed, albeit will less sophisticated models, during the 1918 H1N1 influenza pandemic, the Great Depression in 1929 and the recession of 2008. In other words, strong external factors are associated with changes in behaviors, especially in relation to conception.


There are a range of factors to explain the 2021 review, including stress and time pressures. Behind these lies  economic uncertainty, lack of childcare or no access to standard child support systems. There are related factors with the role of women at work.


For example, at the institution studied, pregnancy volumes decreased by about 14 percent (using the most restrictive coronavirus measures).


This new review will allow hospitals and governmental agencies to gain a better insight into population dynamics. Understanding this can help with hospital capacity planning as well as the running of health promotion schemes.


In addition, government agencies will be more accurately able to estimate the size of the economy and, from this, model working or aging populations.


Since the study was based on one medical institution (a single tertiary care academic center), then further research will be necessary assess how applicable the model is to the rest of the U.S. (and perhaps worldwide).


The research appears in  JAMA Network Open, titled “Use of Electronic Medical Records to Estimate Changes in Pregnancy and Birth Rates During the COVID-19 Pandemic.”


Posted by Dr. Tim Sandle, Pharmaceutical Microbiology Resources (

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