- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 20, 2002

Area hospitals are bracing for busier maternity wards this summer when the first wave of post-September 11 babies will be born.
Some have already seen an increase this month, and with obstetricians booked and prenatal classes full, hospitals are expecting even more deliveries in July and August.
"There is no doubt that there was a huge bump," said Dr. Sonny Berry, an obstetrician at Northern Virginia OB/GYN Associates Limited in Fairfax. "June and July are busier this year than the last several years."
Dr. Berry said his practice typically averages about 30 to 40 births a month. This month, his practice has 53 babies due, compared with 44 babies delivered last month.
Dr. Barry Rothman, an obstetrician at Physicians for Women in Alexandria, is expecting a big increase in the next two months.
"In our own private practice, we have seen an increase of about 15 to 20 percent a month," he said.
On average, Physicians for Women expects two sets of twins each month, but it is expecting eight in the next few months, according to Dr. Rothman. His practice delivers about 45 to 52 babies a month, but in the coming few months, he expects about 60 deliveries.
Doctors speculate that after the terrorist attacks, couples who were considering starting a family decided not to wait.
"People experienced a lot of emotional trauma after September 11," Dr. Rothman said. "They didn't go to movies. Parties were canceled. They didn't go out of town for trips. Many people decided not to wait any longer to have a baby. Obviously things happen when you stay at home."
Both doctors' practices deliver at Inova Health System hospitals in Northern Virginia, which have seen an upswing in the number of births.
Inova Alexandria Hospital, Inova Fairfax Hospital and Inova Fair Oaks Hospital anticipate more deliveries this summer, according to an Inova spokeswoman, who also said prenatal classes are completely filled through August.
The reason for this birth bump could be psychological, as September 11 forced many people to view life differently, an area psychologist said.
"What happens with a traumatic event is people take stock of their own lives," said Dr. Cynthia Cohen, a psychiatrist at Inova Fairfax Hospital. "There was a general introspection that happened after September 11. By getting people to focus on death, it helps them to focus on life."
She said there are two sides to the debate: Although there could be a surge in births after September 11 because people are re-evaluating their lives, there also could be couples who decide not to have children as a result of the attacks.
"Maybe you would have people who would have given birth who are not anymore," she said.
At the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, spokesman Kevin Sforza said July will be a busy month. The hospital, which handles deliveries for most of the military personnel in the region, averages about 160 births a month and is expecting about 200 births in July.
But Mr. Sforza was reluctant to draw any conclusions about the cause of the increase in births.
"We can't be sure they are connected to September 11," he said.
Doctors and nurses at other hospitals that have seen an increase also expressed skepticism about the September 11 theory.
"We are expecting more in July and August, but the increase has been happening since May," said Claudia Schoener, director of women's and infant services at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Northwest.
She said that every year, the obstetricians who use the hospital report an increase in births of about 30 percent starting in May and continuing through August.
Dr. Phillip Goldstein, chairman of the OB/GYN department at Washington Hospital Center in Northwest, said the hospital always sees an increase in births in the summer.
"Every hospital that delivers babies in this region is going to see an increase in the summer. We won't be able to tell what the cause might or might not be," he said.


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