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Nowhere to go, nothing to do: Are more babies made during natural disasters?

Now that the worst of Hurricane Irene seems to be over, tallying the damage begins.

As the Globe's Konrad Yakabuski wrote Sunday, Irene was the Northeast's worst storm in decades and left a path of debris all along the coast and as far inland as Washington, D.C. There were 21 deaths as of Sunday, according to reports - and massive power outages along with widespread flooding.



But, as Mr. Yakabuski wrote, there were glimmers of good news: "the storm also brought out the best in New Yorkers." Apparently there were only 45 arrests in the city on Saturday night, which is eight times fewer than on a typical summer Saturday evening.

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New Yorkers had been told to stay indoors. The subways were closed. The city that never sleeps was forced into an "involuntary slumber," as Mr. Yakabuski called it.



In addition to a lower crime rate for at least the night, observers wondered if more New Yorkers would be decorating nurseries in nine months.



Blogger Sunny Chanel of Strollerderby, for one, was already wondering aloud if Hurricane Irene might be inspiring a New York-area baby boom.

It makes sense: All that indoor time, together. Nowhere to go, nothing much else to do.



Style maven India Hicks mentioned a link between disasters and fertility as she blogged her eye witness account of the storm as it hit her home the Bahamas.

"The town was deserted, shops shut, houses boarded up, just the faint noise of tap, tap, tap as Bahamians nailed on their last shutters ...The elderly had been moved into the churches, the young were getting drunk. More babies are born nine months after a hurricane than any other time of year."



Strollerderby's Ms. Chanel admits that there appears to be no actual data to support the enticing theory.

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"There have been myths about other disasters and events that were credited for a surge of births, from 9/11 to those conceived during blackouts (most notably the great blackout of 1965).



"But according to several reports, the uptick in births nine months after such events is just rumor and the data doesn't support it when comparing the birth rates to pre and post disaster times," she says.



Still, she cites experts who suggest it's possible that the sudden reminder of death might nudge people who were already thinking of having kids to get started.





Do you think there's anything to this widely-held notion that more babies are born nine months after traumatic events?

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About the Author

Tralee Pearce has been a reporter at The Globe and Mail since 1999, starting as a writer in the paper’s Style section. She joined the new Life section for its launch in 2007. She covers parenting and family issues for the daily section. More

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