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How the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting birth rates in Spokane

You may have seen memes on social media predicting a quarantine baby boom. But is that true? Here's what experts say.

SPOKANE, Wash. — During the start of the coronavirus pandemic, jokes circulated online suggesting quarantine would cause a baby boom. 

That initial quarantine was almost nine months ago, meaning any babies conceived during that time are nearing their due dates.

Despite online memes, the managing nurse at the MultiCare Deaconess Family Birth Center, Jackie Bartosh, said their center is not seeing an increase in new moms due to quarantine.

She specified that some of the hospital's out-patient clinics are experiencing an increase in births but the Family Birth Center is steadily delivering approximately 120 babies per month.

This trend is backed up by research that Bartosh found. She said experts are comparing the current pandemic to the 1918 Spanish Flu outbreak.

“During the pandemic, they’re actually not anticipating a baby boom,” Bartosh said.

Similar to 1918, the country’s economy is not strong, so people are deciding to have less babies. Bartosh said the studies are expecting a baby boom to start after the economy recovers.

The biggest difference between 1918 and now, though, is the United States birth rates have been declining for several years pre-pandemic. Bartosh contributed that decline in part to lower teen pregnancy rates.

But that is changing now. Bartosh found that experts are predicting teen pregnancies to rise due to the pandemic.

“Kids are not going to school. They’re home unattended. There’s not as many activities that can preoccupy their time,” Bartosh said.

After reviewing the births in the month of November, Bartosh found the trend already started at MultiCare Deaconess. The Family Birth Center saw a 10% increase in teen births in just the first month babies would be born after being conceived during the pandemic.

Bartosh is planning on monitoring the trend as more quarantine babies are born.

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