If you go by popular Google searches as a way to tap into the national psyche, than less than 24 hours after Hurricane Irene traveled through the East Coast of the US, we all seemed to have babies on the brain as "early signs of pregnancy" ranked among Google's top 20 trending topics. Coincidence? Or could it have something to do with how couples forced to stay inside and wait out a storm, many of them without electricity or TV to while away the hours, decide to spend their time?
The media has already jumped all over this one, speculating about a boom of "Irene" babies nine months from now (whether the babies will actually be named Irene is a different story). Some experts think the theory of "disaster babies" is bunk. But there actually might be some science and historic data to back up the speculation. According to the Washington Post (via History.com), statistics show that baby births increased nine months after Hurricane Andrew in 1992, after Hurricane Ike in September 2008, and after "Snowmageddon" in 2010.
A study published in a 2010 issue of the Journal of Population Economics, agrees that a bump in births after severe weather is common, but seems to depend not on the storm itself, but on the severity of the advisory associated with it.
"If you're likely to get hit by something that's life-threatening or that forces you to evacuate your home, you're not making babies," co-author of the study Richard W. Evans writes (via the Washington Post). But in a [non-life-threatening] tropical storm like Irene, it might be that baby-making is more of an option, especially if "you've got nothing better to do."
If you're snuggling a little one in your arms right now, think back nine months. Anything unusual in the forecast?