Covid put many women off having children - study

(Photo: Unsplash/Danielle MacInnes)

Covid-19 made large numbers of women re-consider plans to have children, a study has shown.

The NYU Grossman School of Medicine surveyed 1,179 mothers in New York City in the first few months of the pandemic up to August 2020. 

The findings show that Covid-19 gave many mothers second thoughts about having additional children, and that for some, their plans have been abandoned altogether. 

Half (49.2%) of women who had been actively trying to become pregnant before the outbreak of Covid said they had ceased trying since the start of the pandemic. 

Of these, less than half (43.3%) thought they would start trying again once the pandemic was over.

Over a third (37.2%) of women who had been planning to become pregnant before the outbreak of Covid-19 said they were no longer planning. 

Only 4.5% of those who were neither planning nor trying to conceive were said they were newly considering having a baby despite the emergence of Covid-19. 

"Our findings show that the initial Covid-19 outbreak appears to have made women think twice about expanding their families and, in some cases, reduce the number of children they ultimately intend to have," said study lead author and epidemiologist Linda Kahn.

"This is yet another example of the potential long-lasting consequences of the pandemic beyond the more obvious health and economic effects."

The study was published in the JAMA Network Open. It echoes data showing that the US experienced around 300,000 fewer births in 2020, and other research demonstrating similar declines across Europe.

Study senior author epidemiologist Melanie Jacobson said, "These results emphasize the toll the coronavirus has taken not only on individual parents, but perhaps on fertility rates overall."