Maternity wards are empty and birth-control clinics are full because of the recession.
Fewer babies are being born in the central San Joaquin Valley, mirroring declines statewide and nationwide. Hospital newborn-nurseries that were busy just a couple of years ago now have beds aplenty.
Directors of maternity wards blame the baby bust on people delaying childbearing in the poor economy, and on an immigration slowdown because of a lack of farm jobs.
“The recession has a lot to do with it,” along with water cutbacks that have hurt some farmers, said Donna Aldrich, clinical director of maternal child services at Madera Community Hospital. “We had a lot of migrant farmworkers, and they’re just not here.”
Deliveries at the hospital have plummeted. Three years ago, nurses helped with 200 births a month — today the average is about 140 births. And it’s dipped to as low as 108 in a month, Aldrich said, “which is incredible for us.”
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