More Children Are Born--But Not Conceived--On Valentine's Day

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Most people would probably assume that Valentine’s Day is linked to an increase in pregnancies. I mean, given the nature of this holiday and the emphasis on celebrating sex and romance, that would only make intuitive sense, right? Surprisingly, however, it’s not supported by the data. If it were, the birth rate would increase nine months later, but it doesn't—in fact, we actually see one of the lowest birth rates in November.

By contrast, what we do see on Valentine’s Day is a consistent spike in births. In other words, the evidence doesn’t point to more babies being conceived on Valentine’s Day, but it does point to more babies being born on it.

Here’s the evidence: a 2011 study examined trends in birth rate over an 11-year period in the United States [1]. Researchers focused specifically on births the week before and the week after Valentine’s Day during each of those years. It turned out that the odds of giving birth were 5% higher on Valentine’s Day compared to the other days in this two-week window. This was true for both spontaneous (i.e., natural births) as well as C-section deliveries. Interestingly, C-sections increased even more than did spontaneous births (a 12.1% increase versus a 3.6% increase, respectively).

You’re probably wondering what’s going on here and, unfortunately, we can’t say for sure due to the correlational nature of the data. The researchers leading this study suggested that “the positive connotations of Valentine’s Day may increase a pregnant woman’s will to initiate birth.” However, they also suggested the possibility that “the symbols of Valentine’s Day, such as cherubs, may provide a heightened sense of childbirth’s propitiousness.” By this, they meant that the symbolism of Valentine’s Day may be seen on some level as a good omen for giving birth.

More research is needed to know which—if either—of these explanations is correct. Regardless of the reason, though, these findings suggest the counterintuitive conclusion that Valentine’s Day seems to have more to do with birth than it does with conception.

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[1] Levy, B. R., Chung, P. H., & Slade, M. D. (2011). Influence of Valentine’s Day and Halloween on birth timing. Social Science & Medicine73(8), 1246-1248.

Image Source: 123RF/Oleksii Terpugov

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