The United Nations have projected a sharp rise in global birth rates, led by India, in the months since lockdowns were declared across the globe after the World Health Organisation classified the coronavirus a pandemic.
India, with 20.1 million births, tops nations with the anticipated highest numbers of births in the nine months since the pandemic’s declaration, the UN body said. Following India will be countries, such as China (13.5 million births), Nigeria (6.4 million), Pakistan (5 million) and Indonesia (4 million).
“The pandemic could strain healthcare capacities for mothers and newborns,” it said.
“An estimated 116 million babies will be born under the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the UNICEF said in a report. This represents a spike for the period assessed. “New mothers and newborns will be greeted by harsh realities.”
“COVID-19 containment measures can disrupt life-saving health services such as childbirth care, putting millions of pregnant mothers and their babies at great risk,” UNICEF’s executive director Henrietta Fore said in the global report. Developing countries are especially at risk, she said.
The UN body said most of the countries which will witness a baby boom (including India) had “high neonatal mortality rates” even before the pandemic and “may see these levels increase with COVID-19 conditions”.
Even wealthier countries are affected by this crisis, the UN body said. “In the US, the sixth highest country in terms of expected number of births, over 3.3 million babies are projected to be born between March 11 and December 16. In New York, authorities are looking into alternative birthing centres as many pregnant women are worried about giving birth in hospitals.”