From hospitals to AAFES, many organizations around Europe are getting
ready for the return of thousands of troops from
Iraq in the coming months.
But some organizations figure that later this year, the business will be
booming ... as in a baby boom.
Birth rates typically increase after troops return from long deployments,
said Dr. (Maj.) Jeffrey Hermann, chief of obstetrics and gynecology at the U.S.
Army Hospital in Würzburg, Germany.
For example, Hermann said, the hospital averaged about 50 births a month last
fall, after having as few as 20 births a month during other times. The reason
for the increase? The 67th Combat Support Hospital returned from Kosovo late in
2002, Hermann said.
So, with 30,000 1st Armored Division troops scheduled to come home in
February, it's only a matter of time before more babies are born, he said.
"It always happens. People haven't been having babies," Hermann said, "and
they come back and obviously want to get back to a normal life."
The hospital can get a glimpse of a possible baby boom by the number of women
enrolled in the obstetrics orientation, which is often the first step a woman
takes after discovering that she's pregnant, he said.
"Basically we know when the [obstetric] appointments increase, our birth
rates will go up," Hermann said.
And while it is difficult to predict when or how many women will get pregnant
in upcoming months, programs such as Women, Infants and Children have months to
WIC Europe, which provides nutritional support for expectant mothers in their
third trimester and for children 5 and under, has been monitoring areas
affected by deployments.
Despite the number of families that moved back to the States during a
spouse's deployment, usage of WIC has been consistent, said Col. Gail
Williamson, chief of health care operations for Tricare Europe.
Williamson added that WIC may see more expectant mothers and new babies in
coming months as a result of the Army's rest and recuperation program.
"I don't think [the numbers] will be off the scale," said LaMont Olsen, WIC
Europe liaison. "[But] normally when we see the return of a deployment, we see
an increase in births."
The Army and Air Force Exchange Service is also getting ready for the next
baby boom, increasing its orders for maternity and infant clothing, said Jeanne
McDonald, AAFES spokeswoman.
The exchange introduced New Recruit, a new clothing line for babies and
expectant mothers, in December.
Since last year, infant and toddler clothing orders have been increased by 4
percent for the spring/summer seasons and fall/winter clothing orders have been
increased by 5 percent. Maternity clothing orders have also been increased.
"We indeed are expecting an increase in babies," McDonald said.
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