Is the Czech baby boom over and did it ever happen?
In recent years the media, including Radio Prague, repeatedly reported about the Czech Republic experiencing a baby boom. It seemed obvious: statisticians reported increasing birth figures, maternity hospitals were bursting at the seams and mothers had to register months ahead of their delivery to secure a place. So is the baby boom now over and in fact – did it ever happen?
“In the Czech Republic from 2002-03 we recorded a growing birth rate. From around 90,000 childbirths we went to 115,000 – 117,000 babies born annually. It was a significant increase but mathematically speaking it was not a baby boom. At the same time, the number of maternity hospitals went down from 130 to under a hundred. So we had a higher birth rate and a lower number of hospitals which meant that some hospitals had problems meeting the demand. This concerned especially hospitals in Prague. And because it was in Prague, the problem was very apparent. And journalists used the term baby boom as an attractive simplification.”
“We now expect a steady decrease - around 100,000 births per year. This country has a good prenatal care system. We have a three-tier system of maternity hospitals. Some 95 percent of high-risk and pathological pregnancies are transported in time to specialized facilities – perinatological centres where we are able to provide the best possible perinatological care.”
With the alleged baby boom now over, doctors say they still face new challenges, most notably premature births which are on the increase as a result of multiple pregnancies in women who have undergone in vitro fertilization.