Over 80% of people surveyed in a study do not plan to conceive during the COVID-19 crisis, perhaps putting to rest suggestions that the lockdown could lead to a rise in birth numbers. Looking at Italy, a team of experts led by the University of Florence, carried out 1,482 online interviews.
Their results, published in the peer-reviewed journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics and Gynecology, show that some 1,214 (81.9%) did not intend to conceive during the pandemic.
In fact, of the 268 participants who were planning to have children before, over one-third (37.3%) has abandoned the intention. The main reasons behind this decision included worries related to future economic difficulties (58%) and any potential consequences on pregnancy (58%) due to the disease.
The questionnaire, carried out in the third week of the lockdown in Italy, surveyed 944 women (63.7%) and 538 men (36.3%) aged between 18-46 years, in stable heterosexual relationships for at least 12 months. Study author Dr Elisabetta Micelli suggested that mental wellbeing during lockdown had an impact on the desire to have a baby.”
The impact of the quarantine on the population’s perception of their stability and peacefulness is alarming. 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,” she revealed. “We aimed to evaluate if pandemic-related concerns are affecting the desire for parenthood or if quarantine is encouraging reproductive desire. What we found the main reasons that led people to not wanting to conceive included worries related to future economic difficulties and consequences on pregnancy.”
Micelli added, “Interestingly, although half of the people referred no interruption in their job activity and no variations of salaries, over 40% of participants reported a worrying reduction of monthly profits. Remarkably, the fear of imminent and future economic instabilities led those who were trying for pregnancy to stop in 58% of cases.”
Nevertheless, despite most people not wanting to conceive during the pandemic, 60% of the 268 correspondents already planning to have carried on in their quest – with the experts suggesting that the fear of infertility outweighs the worries of the consequences of COVID-19 infection.
Additionally, some 140 (11.5%) people, in fact, most women, revealed a new desire for parenthood during the quarantine. In most cases, the respondents referred “the will for change” (50%) and “the need for positivity” (40%) to be the main reasons of. Only six out of the 140 (4.3%), however, effectively tried to get pregnant in this period.
Commenting on the limitations of the study, the authors add, “It is unknown whether these findings will result in a substantial modification of birth rate in the near future.”
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