Will this winter’s unseasonably cold Columbus GA weather lead to a baby boom? The idea that cold weather and other natural disasters ultimately lead to a rise in births nine months later is one of the media’s favorite urban legends. And it’s easy to see why they would think that.
Think about it…lots of people stuck in their homes for long periods of time. If the electricity goes out, they can’t watch TV or go online. After playing games by candlelight loses its allure, there’s still one activity that keeps them occupied and conserves body heat — and can bring a new human being into the world.
The legend that disasters lead romance to bloom has been around since 1965 when a blackout hit the New York City area. It has also been linked to ice storms in the U.K. and hurricanes in the Gulf. One blog claimed there was a 40% increase in births in 2008 in a Dutch town that experienced a two-day power outage. A local TV station in Plano, Texas, quotes a local obstetrician/gynecologist as saying he expects “a bit of a baby boom come November,” following the snowy winter.
The problem is that there’s no proof that such a connection exists. Some of these urban legends are hard to dispel; they have power because people want to believe in them.
But baby booms caused by cold weather or blackouts make little sense, both biologically and practically. Having more sex does not automatically lead to pregnancy, particularly for couples using contraceptives. The number of couples who are trying to conceive and succeed thanks to some help from the weather is relatively small.
That’s not to that say outside events don’t affect fertility. Scientists did find a baby boom in Oklahoma City after the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. Researchers found about 600 more annual births in metropolitan Oklahoma City than trends would have predicted, for at least four years following the bombing. That was enough children to fill as many as 24 elementary classrooms at every grade level.
Unlike couples trapped in a blizzard, the people in Oklahoma were responding to an event that shook them to their core, causing them to take a hard look at what was important to them, such as family, Morgan says That’s a far more powerful argument for procreation then being snowed in with your partner in a freezing house.
If nine months from now you need an OBGYN Columbus residents rely on Dr. Otto Umana.