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Will the coronavirus social distancing lead to a baby boom?

Thanks to social distancing measures and #flattenthecurve-related lockdowns arising from attempts to curb a more widespread COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, most of us are facing the possibility of spending the next few weeks at home, and in close proximity with our loved ones. If you are looking to start or grow your family, you might be in luck.

Researchers have regularly found that large-scale disasters which have forced families and couples to stay together for extended periods of time can actually have an impact on birthrates since catastrophes bring people together. In one study published in 2002, social scientists saw a spike in marriages and births after Hurricane Hugo struck in 1990. Another study conducted in 2005 saw birthrates spike after the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing (via The New York Times). 

And it just doesn’t happen in America. When the UK county of Gloucestershire suffered from historic flooding in 2007, the council experienced a big shortage in school places a few years later, and ended up having to create 200 extra spots to meet demand. The conclusion? That the 2007 flooding had led to a baby boom (via The Guardian). Even in Italy, which has been hit hard by the coronavirus, The Daily Beast says people in quarantine zones have begun talking about a spike in births as a result of coronavirus quarantines. 

A coronavirus-led baby boom could definitely happen

So can we expect the coronavirus to cause a global spike in birth rates by the end of this year? Possibly, maternal fetal medicine doctor Michael Cackovick tells Romper, thanks to “…the human response to loss, disruption in access to family planning and of course, increased sexual activity from being confined to home.” He explains, “There are certainly tons of anecdotal reports of increased fecundity or fertility after events forcing people to stay at home. Scientific reports, however, have been mixed in an effort to confirm the phenomenon.”

Parents with crisis babies don’t need science to tell them what they already know. “I don’t care what the evidence is,” Nicola Davies who had a baby after the Gloucestershire floods tells The Guardian. “I still think there’s something in it. Look, the floods prompted this huge feeling of community spirit. After they were over … We’d been through two weeks of hell, everyone was on an absolute high. It was like a reaffirmation — we’d got through it! Speaking for myself, there was a bit of alcohol involved. A sense of celebration. And, well, there we were. Or is that too much information?”

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