Will Switzerland experience a baby boom in the time of corona?

A maternity ward in Bellinzona, southern Switzerland, in January 2019 © Keystone / Alessandro Crinari
This content was published on July 19, 2020 - 14:22
Sonntagsblick/swissinfo/sb

With the country in lockdown in spring to curb the spread of Covid-19, some people have predicted a rise in the birth rate and a new baby boom. A Swiss newspaper points to a surge in pregnancy tests.

According to SonntagsBlick newspaper, there are strong indications that a coronavirus-induced baby boom may be underway.

“We have been experiencing a rush of pregnancy tests since the end of February,” Frank Marent, managing director of the online pharmacy McDrogerie.ch told the newspaper on July 19.

At the online site microspot.ch, more than three times as many pregnancy tests have been sold since the beginning of the lockdown compared to the same period last year.

And in April and June, the Coop supermarket also reported a high number of pregnancy tests sold in their branches and at the Coop pharmacy Vitality. The pharmacy chain Pura Vita said it had sold twice as many tests between mid-March and mid-July as in the previous year.

Sonntagsblick said Zurich's Zollikerberg hospital had indicated a possible increase in the number of pregnancies.

“In our consultation hours, we have noticed a clear increase in the number of enquiries, with over 30% more pregnancy care being provided,” head physician Nadja Pauli told the Sunday paper.

The Swiss Society for Gynaecology and Obstetrics, meanwhile, was cautious. “Whether there is a baby boom will only be determined based on nationwide birth figures,” said Secretary General Thomas Eggimann.

“Stressed and worried”

However, some initial studies do not support the possibility of a lockdown baby boom.

A study of data from a survey conducted among 18-34-year-olds in France, Germany, Italy, Spain and UK found that the effect of the pandemic on fertility intentions was negative.

And a separate study of global sexual habits carried out by the Kinsey Institute from mid-March to mid-May found that nearly half of those surveyed said they had sex less frequently and enjoyed it less during the pandemic.

Justin Garcia, a sex researcher at the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University, told the Financial Times that he thought there would be no baby boom to show for those two months of lockdown.

“People report pretty high rates of feeling stressed and worried, and those are not psychological states conducive to sexuality,” he said.

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