The chance of a COVID baby boom is looking unlikely, according to new research from Legacy Community Health, a Houston-based community clinic system.
Clinicians at Legacy tested more than 2,400 patients from May through August 2020 and found a 29 percent net decrease in the number of positive pregnancy tests compared to the same period in 2019.
“There are a number of factors that could be attributed to this trend,” Dr. Vian Nguyen, chief medical officer at Legacy Community Health, said in a statement, “namely caring for other children while trying to work and take care of the home.”
Economic anxiety may also be another factor, said Dr. Rachel Robinson, the OB-GYN medical director at Legacy Community Health.
“Families are intentionally delaying childbearing because of the economic impact,” Robinson said.
Floods and power outages can disrupt access to birth control, family planning services and other medical care, changing fertility rates, according to a published by the Population Reference Bureau, a Washington-based nonprofit think tank.
The Brookings Institute, a Washington-based nonpartisan think tank, called the coming years a “baby bust,” with birth rates expected to decline.
In the case of COVID-19, Robinson said, the disaster is still ongoing, especially as unemployment rates remain three to four times higher than where they were a year prior.
The total number of pregnancy tests done at Legacy’s clinics is down 36 percent between 2019 and 2020. However, positive pregnancy rates remain the same, between 75 and 80 percent.
Robinson expects to see birth rates rebound in the coming months as vaccine trials continue and cities and states lift some of their COVID-19 restrictions.
“We’re going to see it start to go back up, just based on the women coming in, wanting birth control or prenatal counseling and showing interest in trying to get pregnant,” she said.