The increase in babies born during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic is expected to boom within the first six months of 2021, the chief of the Commission on Population and Development (Popcom) has said.
“I believe the [peak in] lockdown babies, we see it in the first six months of 2021. That will probably be the peak,” Popcom director Undersecretary Juan Perez said in a phone interview on ABS-CBN News.
He said lockdown pregnancies would raise the number of births between January and September.
“So for the next six to nine months we will see the effects of COVID when it comes to birth increase. Increase in births or unwanted pregnancies. Hopefully (there will be a) normalized situation (on) 2nd quarter so it will not go beyond September,” he said.
Earlier Wednesday, the commission said the population was expected to swell at 111.1 million, which would affect the “under 1 age group” due to increased unplanned pregnancies brought about by the pandemic.
However, as vaccine talks continue, and lockdown restrictions ease enough for people to seek family planning services, Perez said they expected the number of unplanned pregnancies to “normalize” within 2021.
“I hope that with the normalization, and increasing vaccination rates, women can avail of services again as they need and I hope by 2022 this phenomenon passes by,” Perez said.
Quarantine restrictions have been in place in the entire country since March, limiting movement and keeping families inside their homes in efforts to contain the virus.
Groups have previously projected an uptick in unplanned pregnancies.
The University of the Philippine Population Institute and the United Nations Population Fund estimated there will be some 2.5 million unplanned pregnancies in the country by the end of the year.
POPCOM is “hopeful” that the situation will normalize by the second or third quarter of the year. Otherwise, they project a “year-long phenomenon” and will start doing mitigating measures such as localizing their programs and continuing family planning commodities.
The Philippine population at the onset of 2021 is expected to increase to 110.8 million, POPCOM said.
The Philippines is however expecting a slower population growth rate by the onset of 2021, with Perez noting a trend of families keeping their numbers small.
“Women are opting for lower fertility, and smaller families. So that’s not just a Filipino trend and the Philippines was rather late in catching up so we’re latecomers to the international phenomenons,” Perez said.
“We are down to 2.5 million children for the 5-year period in the next 5 year period (2021-2025 our number of children per family expected 2.3 to 2.2 (million). That’s why we’re saying the trend is now for smaller families. [It’s a] continuing trend that I hope to see in 2025,” Perez added.