CHICAGO – On Nov. 4, 2008, the hope and happiness seemed boundless for supporters of President-elect Barack Obama, leading some to speculate, with a wink and a nod, that in 9 months there would be a virtual “Obama baby boom” – a celebratory uptick in the national birth rate.
But now, 40 weeks later – the average human gestation period – MSNBC is reporting the prediction has largely been nothing more than, well, false hope.
In Chicago, ground zero for Obama’s election celebration, area hospitals confirm that they have not seen a noticeable surge in births.
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“We definitely did not see that here,” said Chris James, a spokesman for the University of Chicago Medical Center. Neither had staff at Edward Hospital in Naperville, Ill., said Brian Davis, vice president. And while nurses at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago were unusually busy last week, “babies are unpredictable,“ spokeswoman Kim Waterman said. “You can’t tie it back to a certain date.”
“Research evidence gives scant support for a one-day or one-month fertility ‘spike’ due to the election,” Donald Bogue, a University of Chicago demographer and sociologist, wrote in an e-mail. ”Births are now predominantly planned and not very responsive to good news.”
Though his election apparently did not spawn a generation of Obama babies, the president may be tickled to know he has inspired a generation of baby names.
In 2008, the name Barack set what’s believed to be a record for the Social Security Administration’s annual Most Popular Baby Names list by skyrocketing more than 10,000 spots on the list, from 12,535 in 2007 to 2,409 in 2008. And the Social Security Administration predicts the name will even crack the top 1,000 this year.