Lockdowns imposed to curb the spread of COVID-19 may not lead to a rise in birth numbers, according to a study which said over 80 per cent of people surveyed do not plan to conceive during the COVID-19 crisis.
The study, published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics and Gynecology, looked at parenthood desires during the ongoing pandemic crisis using data from 1,482 interviews with people under lockdown, carried out online.
Based on their findings, the scientists, including those from the University of Florence in Italy, said nearly 1,214 (81.9 per cent) of the people did not intend to conceive during the pandemic crisis.
More than 260 participants who were planning to have a child before the pandemic, but later abandoned the intention, the study noted.
According to the researchers, the main reasons that led people to this decision included worries related to future economic difficulties, and any potential consequences on pregnancy due to the infectious disease.
A questionnaire, carried out in the third week of the lockdown in Italy, surveyed 944 women, and 538 men aged between 18-46 years, and in a stable heterosexual relationship for at least twelve months.
Mental wellbeing during lockdown had an impact on the desire to have a baby, said Elisabetta Micelli, co-author of the study from the Assisted Reproduction Technologies Center in Italy.
“In our study sample, the majority of participants gave significantly higher total scores to their mental wellbeing before the pandemic, while lowest scores were reported in the answers referred to the COVID-19 period,” Micelli said.
Although almost half of the people referred no interruption in their job activity, and no variations of salaries, the scientists said, over 40 per cent of participants reported a worrying reduction of monthly profits.
Despite most people not wanting to conceive during the pandemic, 60 per cent of the 268 correspondents already planning to conceive have carried on in their quest.
About 140 (11.5 per cent) of the people revealed a new desire for parenthood during quarantine.
In most cases, the respondents referred “the will for change”, and “the need for positivity” to be the main reasons of this intention.
Only six out of the 140 (4.3 per cent), however effectively tried to get pregnant in this period.
The study also measured people’s reported levels of sexual activity.
About 60 per cent of the couples who were already involved in childbearing attempts, continued in this project and did not report a reduction in the number of sexual intercourses.
Commenting on the limitations of the study, the scientists said, “it is unknown whether these findings will result in a substantial modification of birth rate in the near future.”
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