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Thursday 13 August, 2020

Health Ministry looking out for COVID-19 ‘baby boom’ in early 2021

Dr Adesh Sirjusingh, Director of Women’s Health at the Ministry of Health, said the Ministry will be on the lookout for an increase in the number of babies being born toward the beginning of 2021, which might be a result of the COVID-19 lockdown.

Speaking at a media briefing on Wednesday, Dr Sirjusingh said that generally there is an increase in the number of deliveries from August to January the following year, compared to the first half of the year.

He said questions have been asked as to whether the enforced lockdown measures during COVID-19 might result in more babies being born, and said this data will be recorded and analysed in order to improve the operation of the healthcare system and distribution of supplies.

‘In any given year from August going into January of the subsequent year, we do see a rise…in terms of the number of deliveries.’

‘Generally, there are about 1,100 to 1,200 deliveries in the ‘low season’ but we have 300-400 more deliveries during those months (during the 'high season'). We use this information to make policy decisions, ensuring there are adequate staff, supplies (and so on).’

Dr Sirjusingh said, as a result, they might note a spike in births by February or March next year. 

‘Many have been asking whether we’re going to see a larger number of pregnancies as a result of COVID-19…we would expect this graph to show a sustained rise…(in) February, March and so on, of next year.’

He said over 90 percent of annual deliveries take place in the public healthcare system.

He added that over the COVID-19 lockdown there were fewer deliveries in the public healthcare sector compared to the same period last year, adding that they have been coping well.

“During the COVID-19 period so far we’ve actually had slightly less deliveries than last year. We have been coping exceedingly well in the system.”

Pregnant women with complications classed as 'high-risk'

Dr Sirjusingh said that global reports have noted an upsurge in adverse conditions related to COVID-19 for mothers and newborns.

‘This is what we’ve been trying to avoid so far and we do not want to see this (here).’

He said some of the issues challenging healthcare systems globally relate to facilities being overwhelmed, with pregnant women and mothers being unable to access proper treatment such as clinics, ultrasound, maternity units and so on.

He referred to a case in Jamaica involving a pregnant woman with flu-like symptoms who died after she was denied access to healthcare. Later updates indicated that she did not have COVID-19.

Dr Sirjusingh said however that all healthcare systems are functioning and able to offer maternity services.

‘We have achieved international targets for mothers and newborn infants...some 13 years ahead of schedule. During the COVID-19 period, we’ve seen no adverse results based on the data collected.’

He said that pregnant women with the following conditions are classed as high-risk cases:

  • Obesity
  • Diabetes/high blood sugar
  • Pre-existing medical conditions eg. heart conditions, sickle cell disease etc
  • Pregnant women 35 years and older

He said pregnant women with COVID-19 will be directed by healthcare teams at local facilities.   

Dr Sirjusingh also urged women who are planning to get pregnant to have a check-up at their local health clinics and consult with a doctor beforehand.

If you are pregnant and are experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, please contact the Ministry's hotline, 800-WELL (9355).

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