Uptick in 'lockdown babies' may peak in the first half of 2021: POPCOM director

Angela Coloma, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 30 2020 05:09 PM

Uptick in 'lockdown babies' may peak in the first half of 2021: POPCOM director 1
Filipino nurse Marciana Erispe tends to a mother inside the maternity ward of the government-run Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Manila, Sept. 18, 2020. Eloisa Lopez, Reuters

MANILA - The uptick in babies born during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic is expected to boom within the first 6 months of 2021, the chief of the Commission on Population and Development (Popcom) said Wednesday. 

"I believe the [peak in] lockdown babies, nakikita natin in the first six months of next year. That will be probably be the peak," Popcom director Undersecretary Juan Perez said in a phone interview on ABS-CBN News. 

He said lockdown pregnancies will raise the number of births between January to September.

"So for the next 6 to 9 months we will see the effects of COVID when it comes to birth increase. Increase in births or unwanted pregnancies. Hopefully normalized na yung situation ng 2nd quarter so hindi na siya magtuloy ng beyond September," he said. 

(Hopefully the situation normalizes in the second quarter and doesn't go beyond September.)

Earlier in the day, the commission said the population is expected to swell at 111.1 million, which will affect the "under 1 age group" due to increased unplanned pregnancies brought about by the pandemic. 

However, as vaccine talks continue, and lockdown restrictions ease enough for people to seek family planning services, Perez said they expect the number of unplanned pregnancies to "normalize" within 2021. 

"I hope that with the normalization, and increasing vaccination rates, women can avail of services again as they need and I hope by 2022 magpass na itong phenomenon na ito, (I hope this phenomenon passes by 2022.)" Perez said.

Quarantine restrictions have been in place in the entire country since March, limiting movement and keeping families inside their homes in efforts to contain the virus. 

Groups have previously projected an uptick in unplanned pregnancies. The University of the Philippine Population Institute (UPPI) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) estimated there will be some 2.5 million unplanned pregnancies in the country by the end of the year. 

POPCOM is "hopeful" that the situation will normalize by the second or third quarter of the year. Otherwise, they project a "year-long phenomenon" and will start doing mitigating measures such as localizing their programs and continue family planning commodities. 

'SLOWER POPULATION GROWTH' 

The Philippine population at the onset of 2021 is expected to increase to 110.8 million, POPCOM said. 

The Philippines is however expecting a slower population growth rate by the onset of 2021, with Perez noting a trend of families keeping their numbers small. 

"Women are opting for lower fertility, and smaller families. So that’s not just a Filipino trend and the Philippines was rather late in catching up so we’re latecomers to the international phenomenons," Perez said. 

"We are down to 2.5 million children for the 5 year period in the next 5 year period (2021-2025 our number of children per family expected 2.3 to 2.2 (million). That’s why we’re saying the trend is now for smaller families. [It's a] continuing trend that i hope to see in 2025," Perez added. 

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