No baby boom despite prolonged lockdown

File picture of a baby boom.

KUCHING: Had the predictions of many hopeful people come to pass, lots of babies would have been born in Sarawak by now. As it is, the predictions are total duds.

On the contrary, there was actually a drop in the number of babies born in Sarawak in January this year (2,326 births) compared to last January (2,847 births).

On this matter, State Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development Minister Datuk Sri Fatimah Abdullah was prudent when she declined to be give a definite answer when asked sometime in April last year if a baby boom would happen as people would have to stay at home at night during the Covid-19 pandemic.

She said she would wait and see if the birth rate increased at the end of last year and early part of this year.

When she directed the question to a member of the State Women’s Council the answer was “quite likely, planned or unplanned” due to opportunities and perhaps difficulties in getting contraceptives due to the imposition of the movement control order (MCO).

“That is true, but on the other hand, for a number of young couples there is the question of financial implications, child education, child-care when both parents are at work,” Fatimah had said.

Also in June last year, Dr Tan Yiap Loong, obstetrician and gynaecologist, urogynaecologist at KPJ Kuching Specialist Hospital, pointed out that baby booms had been noted in the past after hurricanes and other disasters in some parts of the world.

“However, there are other factors that may affect this, including the usage of contraception, the suspension of certain reproductive technique services, decision of couples to delay having a child for fear of the potential consequences of pregnancy due to the disease, and worries of future economic difficulties,” he said.

So, back to the reality in Sarawak — there has been no baby boom in the first month of this year which is contrary to the expectation of many people last year. They believed that Malaysia would see a baby boom in January or slightly after that after the majority of couples were compelled to stay home together due to the movement control order (MCO) phases since March last year.

Based on statistics shared by State Health Department (JKNS) director Dr Chin Zin Hing, as of last Friday there were 1,239 births recorded in Sarawak.

For February last year, 2,925 births were recorded while 2,557 were recorded in February 2019.