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The Wall Street Journal: The pandemic era’s anticipated ‘baby bust’ has failed to materialize

New data on U.S. births suggest that the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a smaller-than-expected baby bust.

The U.S. saw about 7,000 fewer births through the first nine months of 2021 compared with the same period the year prior, according to provisional data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics. The numbers reflect conceptions that occurred roughly from April through December 2020, a period that includes the first part of last winter’s COVID-19 case surge, which started in October 2020 and waned by February 2021.

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Starting in June 2021, monthly births began to show consistent gains over their year-earlier levels, which reflect pre-pandemic conceptions, and that mostly offset declines in the first two months of 2021, the data show.

The 2021 data are national provisional estimates. The federal government will issue a final count later this year, a CDC spokesman said. The provisional data are rounded to the nearest thousand and might differ from the final numbers by as much as 2%, according to the NCHS.

An expanded version of this report appears at WSJ.com.

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