While those of us who still use checkbooks get used to writing “2019,” here are some insights regarding births in New Hampshire, and Concord, in recent years.
- Sibling births are not declining
Large families have largely disappeared from the landscape and the single-child-family is a modern stereotype. It’s not a stereotype that’s easy to see in New Hampshire birth data, however.
In 1995, for example, 35 percent of women who were giving birth had previously given birth to one child, and in 2018 the figure was 36 percent. That percentage basically didn’t budge during any of the years between.
Similarly, in 1995, 15 percent of women in maternity wards had previously given birth to two children and 4.6 percent had given birth to three children; in 2018, those figures were 14 percent and 4.8 percent, respectively – again, virtually unchanged.
Why don’t we see as many multiple-children families? Because the total number of births of declined. So even though the percentage of new babies with older siblings has stayed the same, the number of them has declined.
- We get amorous when days get shorter
In Concord, as in most of the western world, the number of births rises sharply in the summer months.
Consider 2017: The three winter months (December through February) had 313 births, while the four summer months (June through August) had 408 births. Summer is almost 33 percent busier for local maternity wards.
Since it takes nine months to grow a human baby, this data indicates we’re almost 33 percent more likely to start the process in the fall.
- Forget X and Y chromosomes. What about X and Z names?
Five of the state’s 100 most popular boy’s names in 2018 include the letter X (Alexander, Jaxon, Jaxson, Max and Maxwell – yes, those are considered different names) but only one of the most 100 popular girl’s names does (thanks, Alexandra).
On the other hand, six of the 100 popular girl’s names have a Z (Hazel, Elizabeth, Mackenzie, Eliza, Zoe and Zoey) but only one boy’s name does (thanks, Zachary).
The significance of this finding is, admittedly, up for debate.
- Concord births outpace N.H. births
As you probably know, New Hampshire is facing something of a “birth dearth.” The number of children being born in the state has been in a slow decline for a decade, from around 14,000 births each year in the 1990s and early 2000s to about 12,000 each year since 2012.
Concord, however, hasn’t seen that dip. The city – meaning Concord Hospital, since 98 percent of state births take place in hospitals – saw between 1,200 and 1,300 births each year in the 1990s, and has seen between 1,300 and 1,400 births annually over the past decade.
To put it another way: In 1995, 9 percent of the state’s births occurred in Concord. In 2018, about 12 percent of the state’s births occurred in the Capitol City.
That’s a huge swing. Does it mean that Concord-area families are more fecund than the rest of the state?
Not necessarily. It could reflect a decline in the number of alternative birth sites in the region.
For example, after the Lakes Region General Hospital closed its century-old maternity ward in March, many of those mom-to-be’s came to Concord. In 2018, a full 18 percent of Concord births were to Laconia mothers, more than three times the ratio of a decade earlier.
- Moms are smoking less and unmarried more
In 1995, 18 percent of mothers in New Hampshire were smokers while in 2018 just 12 percent were. (However, there’s no data on how many of them used e-cigarettes, often called vaping.)
In 1995, almost 77 percent of mothers were married while in 2018, less than 67 percent were married.
Both those figures are higher than national averages: Throughout the U.S. as a whole, about 7 percent of new moms report having smoked during pregnancy, and 60 percent of new moms are married.
In case you’re wondering – no, there’s no data about whether fathers smoked.
Incidentally, this material is courtesy of the New Hampshire Division of Vital Records. It puts lots of information online in easily searchable form, if you’d like to do some data-hunting yourself: nhvrinweb. sos.nh.gov.