Birth rates dip during pandemic but Charlotte births rise over the last 5 years, here’s why

Updated: May. 19, 2021 at 2:51 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - According to the CDC, more than 142,000 fewer babies were born in 2020 than in 2019. The pandemic is an obvious contributor to the decline in birth rates, but Novant Health doctors are sharing other factors that play a role.

According to the CDC, birth rates dropped by about 4 percent nationwide in 2020 compared to 2019. This is the sixth consecutive year the number of births has declined, and it is the lowest number of births since 1979, according to the CDC.

Within the Novant Health system, it saw a 6 percent decline in 2020 compared to 2019.Novant Health OB/GYN Dr. Ebony Parson says the pandemic played an obvious role in the decline in births.

“There’s just a lot of angst,” Parson said. “A lot of people have shifted their focus to employment and maintaining income.”

Brittani and Brandon Milton say they were nervous when their family of four would soon be expanding to a family of six.

“We just felt the timing of having kids in the pandemic might not be the best time,” Brandon Milton said. “I work at a bank where people are coming in and out. So, being exposed to the general public, I was worried about bringing something home.”

“And not knowing if he’d be able to be with me during the delivery process,” Brittani Milton added. “He was with me during every appointment with Brooklyn and Blake {the Milton’s older children}, so just the though of doing that alone was really scary.”

The Miltons delivered healthy twins, Benjamin and Brielle, on February 16, 2021. Brandon was able to be in the delivery room with Brittani. They say they remained healthy through the entire pregnancy.

After birth, the Miltons made the decision to get vaccinated.

“That was my main concern; what would trickle down to them {the twins}? Would it be harmful or would it be helpful,” Brittani Milton explained. “Just assessing the risks vs. the benefits. Ultimately, I’m glad I decided to get vaccinated. I feel like it’s the only measure to help them since they can’t get vaccinated.”

Dr. Parson knows the pandemic weighed heavily on many minds as patients decided whether to expand or start families. However, she says some families chose to get pregnant during the pandemic since more time was being spent at home.

“Being home, being able to work remotely gave them a new opportunity they had not had before,” Dr. Parson explained.

Dr. Parson believes the election and better access to contraception also contributed to the decline in birth rates.

“If you see an increase in access for those who desire birth control, you’re going to see a decrease in unplanned pregnancies,” Dr. Parson said. “It was also an election year. So, anytime you’re looking at proposed changes to legislation and coverage of contraception you can see some changes in the behavior of women.”

While 2020 saw the lowest number of births since 1979, there has been a decrease in birthrates nationwide over the last six years. Dr. Parson says that may be because more women are working.

On the contrary, Novant Health says within its system, the greater Charlotte area has seen a 24 percent increase in birth rates over the last five years.

“I think that’s a direct reflection of people moving into the area,” Dr. Parson explained.

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