Data from the National Early Diagnosis Program, better known as the “heel prick test”, indicate that 18,226 new borns were studied in this first trimester, in the midst of the covid-19 pandemic, the lowest number since 2015.
In relation to the same period in 2020, 2,898 fewer babies were screened (-13.7%), according to data from the National Institute of Health Dr. Ricardo Jorge.
"If this decrease occurs, and if the value remains, we may be facing the minimum historical value of births in Portugal, that is, below 80,000 in the year 2021", said Maria João Valente Rosa.
According to the demographer, "not even in the period of financial crisis, when births in Portugal decreased significantly, was there such a marked decrease".
The births registered in the first quarter of this year were of children conceived between April and June 2020, at a time when the pandemic of covid-19 was “very strong”, reflected in the birth rate.
"The data reflect the previous nine months of 2020 that have an impact in 2021 and that it will somehow continue because the pandemic has not ended in the meantime", she said, stressing that all babies born in 2021 were conceived during "a whole period marked by the pandemic ”.
For the demographer, what may be at stake with this situation is "a strong postponement" of the parenting project because "people who thought they were conceiving a child were caught up in a very critical moment".
“Children are not conceived by chance, they are very planned, and they are very desired, most of the time, and there is very strong planning”, but when circumstances and environment become “very insecure” this desire is postponed.
As reasons for this postponement, Maria João Valente Rosa pointed out the “great uncertainties in relation to the future, namely in professional and labour terms and the insecurity also associated with monitoring during the gestation period”.