Summer finally brought quarantine ‘baby boom’ to NJ hospitals
AtlantiCare's Center for Childbirth reported 193 newborn deliveries in June, 194 in July, and 190 in August. On average, those were about 30 more births per month than the Center usually sees — evidence of a long-anticipated baby boom brought on by COVID-19 lockdowns.
"We usually look at historical trends, so if it's more than, I would say 10 to 20, that is definitely considered a boom or a surge," Dr. Jennifer Tioseco, medical director of the AtlantiCare neonatal intensive care unit, said.
Tioseco, who is also director of the Newborn Care network for Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, is a mother of twins, and the summer of 2021 was apparently a big one for double births, too.
Ten sets of twins were delivered by the AtlantiCare team from June through August, a sizable portion of the 28 sets born there this year through mid-September.
The COVID baby boom took a while to get going, Tioseco said, because many families lost income at the outset of the pandemic, and there was significant uncertainty about how the virus behaved and how it might affect childbirth.
But as 2020 finally drew to a close, with the approach of the holiday season and anticipation of a vaccine rollout, Tioseco said more couples became comfortable with expanding their family.
The U.S. Census Bureau has reported that births declined nationally in winter 2020-21, but showed signs of a rebound by March.
Statewide, the New Jersey Hospital Association told New Jersey 101.5 it does not have a full picture of summer statistics yet, due to a lag in data reporting.
But at AtlantiCare specifically, there was another reason for the birth increase.
"Our summer months are always busier, because we have an influx of the population coming to the Jersey Shore or in our area, the Shore towns," Tioseco said.
Monitoring federal guidance, AtlantiCare now recommends pregnant women receive the COVID-19 vaccine if they haven't already.
Other than that, Tioseco said the usual prenatal advice applies.
"It sounds so cliché, but eating a well-balanced and healthy diet, which not a lot of people do, surprisingly. There are certainly those of us who try," she said, adding that exercise and sleep are also essential.
Tioseco also reminds expectant mothers to avoid alcohol or unprescribed, illicit drugs.
"This sounds so obvious, but we can't take it for granted, because layered on with COVID there's been a lot of stress, and people try to self-medicate with whatever's accessible," she said.
To put mothers (and fathers) at ease, AtlantiCare offers a Level III NICU, the second-highest classification. Tioseco said families want to believe everything will go as planned during a delivery, but when it doesn't, every second counts.
Patrick Lavery is New Jersey 101.5's afternoon news anchor. Follow him on Twitter @plavery1015 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.