Israeli hospitals seeing record-breaking baby boom

JTA

(JTA) — Several hospitals in Israel reported record-breaking numbers of deliveries of newborns.

Maternity wards in most of Israel’s hospitals are at capacity, with some mothers being referred to other departments and others having their being delivered in hallways, Ynet reported Thursday.

Soroka Hospital in Be’er Sheva broke its all-time record for births in any given month with 1,518 deliveries in July. That’s almost an increase of 10 percentage points over the 1,395 births recorded there in July 2017. Soroka has Israel’s largest number of births: Approximately 17,000 annually. That means that July was higher by seven percentage points than the monthly average of 1,415 births at Soroka. In July 2017, Soroka had 1510 births — a previous record for July.

The Israeli hospital with the second-largest number of births, Ichilov Hospital, saw 1,014 births in July – nearly 10 percentage points above that hospital’s monthly average of 916 births. Ichilov last month opened a new maternity ward with 51 private rooms and a new infant department.

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Smaller hospitals, including Ha’emek in Afula, also saw a noticeable increase. Whereas last year, Ha’Emek had 341 deliveries in July, this year the tally for last month was 392 births.

The uptick is connected to rising fertility rates and the fact that there is a significantly higher number of births during the summer months compared to winter, according to the report.

August usually has the highest number of births of the year — 16,540 of them in August 2016 nationwide, compared to approximately 14,000 in February.

In 2016, Israel had 181,405 deliveries and a fertility rate of 3.11 children per mother. This figure is by far the highest fertility rate among the members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, a club of 34 industrialized nations. Israel had a fertility rate of four children per mother in 1970, but it had dropped to 2.9 by 1999 before climbing up to its current level.

The average fertility rate within the OECD is 1.7 children per mother.