The first indications of a burgeoning pandemic baby boom have appeared in southern Finland, with a small increase in births in the first months of this year.
Significantly more babies are expected to be born in the Helsinki and Uusimaa Hospital District (HUS) this spring than last year, says Aydin Tekay, head of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Helsinki University Central Hospital.
Based on early pregnancy screenings in Helsinki and neighbouring Espoo, the number of births is expected to be around 10 percent higher in March than a year ago. Growth is expected throughout the HUS region, Tekay told the Finnish news agency STT.
"March will probably be rather busy"
"By the end of February, we'll see if the forecast is correct, but March will probably be rather busy," Tekay said.
In January, only slightly more babies were born in HUS than last year, but a larger increase is forecast for this month.
Tekay surmises that there was renewed interest in having children last summer, so the number of births should show an increase in March-April.
However, last spring's first wave of stay-at-home recommendations have not been directly reflected in pregnancy rates.
"Apparently people were quite moderate and cautious during the first phase of restrictions. If more conceptions had taken place then, it should have shown up in the November-December figures," Tekay says.
Slightly more babies in southwest Finland
According to preliminary figures from Statistics Finland, over 800 more children were born in Finland in December than a year earlier. Preliminary data for January will be released later this month.
A small increase in the number of births so far this year has also been observed at Turku University Hospital.
Eeva Ekholm, chief physician of the hospital's Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, says that in January there were about the same number of births as a year earlier, but that slightly more births are expected in February and March than in 2020.
"A small increase, but it will be less than five percent," Ekholm predicts.
Slower in Häme
Meanwhile fewer babies have been born lately in the Pirkanmaa hospital district, which includes the south-central city of Tampere.
"So far there have been 20 fewer births than last year at this point," said Kirsi Kuismanen, head of the gynaecology and obstetrics department.
However, the due dates of expectant mothers in Tampere point to a small increase this spring. About half of the hospital district's customers are from Tampere.
Kuismanen points out that this may be related to a busy period of infertility treatments at Tampere University Hospital last autumn, due to a backlog of cases from last spring that were postponed due to coronavirus restrictions.