Swedish births boom during summer holidays

Swedish births boom during summer holidays
A summer birth trend in Sweden that has lasted for the last several years continued in 2010, with births so far this year peaking in July.

March came in close second, followed by April, May and June, Statistics Sweden reported on Friday.

The old adage that the majority of children are born in the spring appears to be on its way out. In recent years, maternity wards have experienced their highest loads during the summer holiday month of July, putting even more pressure on often thinly-staffed maternity wards.

The trend continued this year, although births in March nearly reached the July figure of 10,290 births. In addition, birth rates in April, May and June did not fall far behind.

In the 1990s, Swedish births were most common in the spring. By the middle of the decade, the peak moved to March, then shifted to April.

However, since 2003, with few exceptions, the mid-summer month of July has taken over as the most stressful period for the country’s maternity wards. In addition, the proportion of August births has also increased.

At the same time, while birth patterns appear to be developing towards a single extended peak from March to August, the Swedish birth rate drops between September to February, with November and December registering the lowest number of births.

The question of why the birth rate has varied over the years has intrigued researchers around the world. One possible explanation is that parents see the benefits of giving birth during or in connection with the summer holidays.

“One theory may be that people plan their childbearing more. They may find it convenient to have children in the summer. It makes it easier for both parents to be home during the early period after birth,” said Karin Lundström, a demographer at Statistics Sweden.

Although the number of births has increased in recent years, they still have a way to go to match the high birth rate in the early 1990s, with an average of 11,500 live births during the previous peak months of March or April. In the last three years, the number of births in July fell to just over 10,100 to just over 10,300.

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