Pandemic impact: CA sees dramatic decline in newborns conceived in 2020


SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) – The coronavirus had an impact on just about everything last year. This story is proof of that. 

Some are calling 2020 a pandemic baby bust — A Bay Area doctor talks about why some of his patients decided to delay their family plans. 

The birth rate in the state of California has been on a downward trajectory for a number years. 

However, the state experienced a dramatic decline in newborns conceived in 2020 during the pandemic.

“Our hospital matches the state, matches the nation. Clearly, we had less births in the last year during the pandemic,” Dr. Fadel Shammout said. 

Dr. Fadel Shammount is an OB/GYN at San Ramon Medical Center.

“The decline has been going on for 10-years or so but the significant decrease in the last year was not matchable. If you look at the previous data it was not as huge as this last year when the pandemic hit. A clear example was December 2020 there were at least 10% fewer births than the previous December,” Shammout said. 

The uncertainty of the economy as things were shutting down, employment instability, shelter-in-place orders, and an overall lack of security, all weighed heavily on the minds of his patients who were considering additions to the family last year.

“From my perspective as a physician, I can tell you a lot of my patients are requesting and desiring a delay in their pregnancies and using more long-term contraception. Now there are additional factors. For example, a lot of fertility procedures were counted as elective procedures. So they were canceled in March, April, May. Got rescheduled. Pushed back. That’s a major contribution to the birth rates in our nation. That added to the decrease in the birth rate,” Shammout said. 

But as the economy begins to reopen and if it can stay open, he anticipates a pendulum swing in new California babies next year.

“That will be another proof of course that the pandemic was the major reason,” Shammout said.

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