Maternity wards across England and Wales are once again bracing themselves for a busy couple of months. For the last 20 years, data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) have shown a surge in births around late September and October, which is around 40 weeks after Christmas. The fact is that more babies are conceived during the festive period than at any other time of the year. Conversely, Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day all have the lowest numbers of births.
The ONS said, “A peak in births in late September shows that more babies are conceived in the weeks leading up to and days after Christmas than at any other time of the year.”
Data show that if births were evenly distributed around the year there would be an average of 1800 births per day in England and Wales, but in September the average is 2000. The most popular day in September appears to be the 26th.
The Autumnal peak in births could be purely down to couples spending more time together over the holidays. The increase in celebratory tipples, office parties and breaks over the festive period could also be a contributory factor. In addition, it is a fact that some potential parents are known to plan ahead to target the start of the new school year. A series of studies and Department of Education figures have suggested that September babies, who are the oldest in their year group, are at an advantage. They are deemed more likely to get top grades, perform well in sport and go on to have more productive careers than their younger classmates.
A reason for the low birth rates on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day could partly be down to fewer scheduled births by Caesarean section taking place during this holiday time.
Worldwide, there are approximately 360,000 babies born each day and 15,000 births per hour.