Lockdown baby boom: Number of births in 2021 highest since 2015

We’ve all heard the jokes about how lockdown leads to a “baby boom” – but it turns out being stuck at home does lead to a rise in birth rates.

New information from Stats NZ for the year ending in September 2021 confirms an increase in live births compared to the same time last year.

The data reveals there were 59,382 live births registered in Aotearoa, an increase from 57,753 last year.

And the fertility rate has risen slightly as well, sitting at 1.66 births per woman, up from 1.63 at the same time in 2020. The infant mortality rate also rose slightly, now at 4.50 deaths per 1000 live births, up from 4.26.

Significantly, the number of live births as at September 2021 is the highest since 2015 – long before the pandemic changed all of our lives and lockdown was the last thing on anyone’s mind.

At the beginning of this year, the Herald reported that some hospitals were seeing an increase in births, particularly in Auckland.

Middlemore Hospital said the number of women in its maternity ward had increased by 44 per cent since the same time last year.

The hospital was seeing a daily 34 new patients in its maternity ward between December 2019 and January 2020. By February, the number jumped to 49.

Middlemore Hospital obstetrician Dr Sarah Corbett said at the time, “We’ve been saying ‘what’s going on, why is it so busy’ and then we calculated it and realised it has been nine months since the start of lockdown.”

In May this year, Stats NZ released data that showed there was actually a drop in births that could be traced back to the March 2020 lockdown.

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