Coronavirus baby boom may actually be a ‘baby bust’ as experts see spike in birth control orders

Many believe the United States is due for another baby boom after couples nationwide have had an abundance of alone time together. However, a spike in birth control requests may make a coronavirus baby boom unlikely.

Digital health clinic Nurx says they've seen a 50% increase in new patient requests for birth control and a 40% increase in emergency contraception requests.

"Whether to have a child for the first time or another child ... that’s something people are feeling it isn't the time to explore," said Nurx spokesperson Allison Hoffman.

Many are delaying family planning due to health-related uncertainties brought by the coronavirus pandemic. A study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last Thursday found that pregnant women may be at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 compared with non-pregnant women.

So far, there’s no data on how a COVID-19 infection affects a woman’s pregnancy or the health outcomes of their babies. But Dr. Mary Jane Minkin, OB/GYN and clinical professor at Yale University, said there are still too many unknowns about the coronavirus and most of her patients are erring on the side of caution.

“If people do have the luxury of waiting and are still early in the process, I think waiting is what most people opt towards and understandably so,” she said.

A Guttmacher survey of more than 2,000 cisgender women between the ages of 18-49 in the week of April 30 to May 6 found that more than 40% of them have changed their plans about when to have children or how many children to have because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Ashley Brant, OB/GYN and family planning specialist at the Cleveland Clinic, says the economy has also influenced people’s decisions to have a baby as millions of Americans lose their job and the health insurance tied with it.

The Brookings Institute says the economy has long dictated a baby boom or a “baby bust.” According to economists at the think tank, the United States should expect 300,000 to 500,000 fewer births next year as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

To compare, the Great Recession led to a drop of almost 400,000 fewer births from 2007 to 2012.

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Along with a spike in birth control orders, doctors have also seen a shift in preferred birth control methods. Although the pill is far and away the most preferred method of birth control, Hoffman said there has been increased interest in the shot as it can be administered at home and can last for three months.

Minkin said more people are considering a birth control ring during the coronavirus pandemic that’s relatively new to the market – Annovera – because it’s reusable, long acting and reversible.

“Contraception is so critical to the health and wellbeing of my patients, especially in a pandemic when there’s so much uncertainty,” Brant said. “Health care providers are rising to the challenge of finding ways to provide (that) care.”

Health and patient safety coverage at USA TODAY is made possible in part by a grant from the Masimo Foundation for Ethics, Innovation and Competition in Healthcare. The Masimo Foundation does not provide editorial input.

Follow Adrianna Rodriguez on Twitter: @AdriannaUSAT.


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