The Ike Baby Boom That Wasn't

Whenever a city suffers a blackout for any extended period of time, you can be sure that journalists will trot out the old story about a "baby boom" happening nine months later.

It's definitely been enough time for any local Ike babies to get themselves out into the big ol' world, so -- just how big was the Ike Baby Boom in Houston?

Not so big. In fact, it was pretty much a bust.

Hair Balls got actual birth figures from the Hermann Hospital System (eight big hospitals for births), Texas Women's Hospital, LBJ and Ben Taub; we also talked to Methodist. While some saw an increase in births in June/July 2009 over the previous year, others saw drops.

"We are not seeing anything that can be attributed to an Ike baby boom," says Jennifer Hart, spokesperson for Hermann. "It's just normal summer numbers."

Really? A sticky-hot, airless bedroom, with mosquitoes buzzing around because windows are opened, was not conducive to sex just because the lights were out? We're shocked.

Hermann's hospitals had 3,571 births in June/July 2008; the same period in 2009 is shaping up to see 3,288.

One glaring exception in the Hermann system -- its facility in The Woodlands, which saw an increase from June 2008 to June 2009. Mary Hersey, director of Women & Newborns at the hospital, had no real explanation except to note "A lot of people around here had generators. Lots of people."

LBJ and Ben Taub, the county-run hospitals, saw a jump in births in June (no July stats available, says spokesman Bryan McLeod). The increase was 11 percent, which seems big; he notes, however, that overall births are up seven percent this year.

At Methodist, spokeswoman Stefanie Asin says she really, really wanted to see a boom. But it never came. "We've gotten a lot of calls about it, but we've just not seen anything trending that way at all," she says.

Overall births at the hospitals we surveyed showed 5,039 babies in June/July 2008 and 4,884 for the same period this year. (This includes some estimates for the rest of July, and some that didn't have any July numbers, so it's not an exact thing.)

We didn't get around to every local hospital that delivers babies, to be sure. It took long enough to get just these figures. But it looks to us like we can call it the Baby Boom that Wasn't.

Ah, well. It still makes a good story, as long as you stick to anecdotal evidence.

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