Nation e-Edition

Births not keeping up with deaths

Tue, March 26, 2013 - 12:11 AM

The survival of all babies is becoming increasingly important for health care providers in the Caribbean and Latin America, especially in light of rapidly declining fertility rates in the region.

Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO)/World Health Organization (WHO) representative for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, Dr Merle Lewis, said that the number of new births in the Caribbean was not keeping pace with the number of deaths.

She said that the total fertility rate in Barbados for 2011 was 1.68 children per woman, and several other Caribbean countries registered similar numbers, indicating that some countries were below the fertility replacement rate of 2.1 children per woman, thereby affecting the broad population stability.

Lewis was speaking at the PAHO/WHO evaluation workshop on the Regional Strategy And Action Plan For Neonatal Health at the Accra Hotel last Tuesday. (LK)

Please read the full story in today’s DAILY NATION, or in the eNATION edition.

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Posted by Cheese On 1 year, 7 months ago
Children are beautiful , wonderful and a joy to experience, however the reality is that even if couples do want children they are very expensive to raise (pampers, food, dr visits and the list goes on). Love given to a child is very important and if it paid the food bill etc, we would all have five or more children but it doesn't!

I know you would not be too pleased if people had children just because they can and then can't afford to raise them. We have too many people on Welfare because of that reason.

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Posted by Bim Bum 1 year, 7 months ago
I'm DELIGHTED at the news that birth-rates aren't keeping up with death-rates!
This is The Best News I've had in quite some time!

You guys don't care to know it but
we live on an overcrowded island on an overcrowded planet.
Death-rates exceeding birth-rates is fantastic Good News!!
Hope the trend continues ad infinitum.

  • 19
Posted by Bim Bum 1 year, 7 months ago
Your headline makes it sound like a problem.
It's not. far from being a problem, this is actually great news!
This planet (and this island!) needs a lot LESS people than we have right now.

Barbados is way overcrowded: Bajans just don't know it!

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Posted by D. Stoute 1 year, 7 months ago
A small country like Barbados could do with a drop in population (at least for a while). Aren't the ones who choose to have eight children making up for the ones who choose to have 1.68 children? Barbados is no cheap date. People have to think of their survival, and having a bunch of children makes survival that much more difficult.

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Posted by Rochelle Taitt 1 year, 7 months ago
Maybe government needs to offer an 18 year financial incentive to motivate persons to parent.

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Posted by Peter lane 1 year, 7 months ago
Birth rates are not linked to cost, neither historically or otherwise. Our fore-parents were poor, yet many of them gave birth to 10 or more children.

They never used expensive chemical-based unhealthy pampers like most people do today. They never ate an abundance of chemical based "fake" foods with little or no nutritional value like we do today.

Their kids were more healthy and so they never required visits to so called doctors (legal drug pushers, Pharmakeia) as often as we do today.

They did more manual labour and walked long distances on a daily basis. We, on the other hand, drive everywhere resulting in more pollution, obesity and as a consequence more infertility.

Week after week the headline in the news reads: GMO caused us to lose our ability to reproduce, Fluoride Chemicals linked to infertility, Chemicals found in Cosmetics linked to infertility, Consuming low-fat dairy products lesson fertility in women, Obesity in men linked to infertility, Stress linked to infertility, and the list goes on.

Its no surprise and its going to get a lot worse. But the UN will be happy since they think (2012 UN report) the world cannot sustain such a large population anyhow.

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Posted by D. Stoute 1 year, 6 months ago
"Our fore-parents were poor, yet many of them gave birth to 10 or more children."

Now Peter, let's face it. The old folks had 10 or more children because: 1) They had unreliable or no means of contraception. 2) In an agrarian society many hands were needed simply to survive; thus a bunch of children to help work the fields, milk the cows, feed the chickens, stake out the sheep, etc. We don't live that way anymore. Whether that's good or bad can be debated. With progress we have pros and cons. Everything in life has pros and cons. Some are good; some not so good. We have to weigh everything in the balance. Not all progress is bad. As much as you sing the praises of the old days I'm sure the old timers wished they had some good birth control and something like pampers to help with those zillion children. Let's also remember that some of the old timers got sick and died because they didn't have access to medical technology.

When all is said and done it is good to have a choice on how many children we produce. Don't you think that all the reasons you cited are particularly good ones to limit the size of one's family? The planet could use a break and people absolutely must have the right to do what works best for them.

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Posted by SANDREA BUTCHER 1 year, 6 months ago
If Barbados was not a water scarce country, had a low cost of living, did not want people to work past 65, was not heavily populated (in general), generated enough jobs and even produced enough food locally, I could see how this could be a problem.

But alas, even though children are gifts from God or blessings, a box of Pampers brand diapers cost more than $60 from Pricesmart; the nurseries are charging roughly $100 per week and you still have to send snacks and juices; school uniforms and primary school text books ain't cheap; the government like they ain't gine be able to afford UWI soon and a good Educational Savings Plan is more than $100 per month; and land can cost more than $30 per square foot because the demand for it is high whilst supply is low.

So you honestly cannot expect anything different.

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Posted by Peter lane 1 year, 6 months ago
I get your point Stoute. However, its a sad thing when married couples try for years and cannot have a child. It is well known that penis size and sperm counts (and as a consequence fertility rates) are dropping.

To make matters worse, many kids that are born have issues such as ADHD and various other illnesses which were rear a decade ago.

Barbados might be over crowded and many people might be choosing to have less children, however, that does not explain why our birth rates are dropping.

It is well known that if you take birth control pills for years to prevent pregnancy, when you finally are ready to have children, statistics show that you are more likely to be infertile. Women are also more likely to have cancer and other health issues as a result of taking these pills. If you don't believe me, then Google Search it.

Let's be honest with ourselves. So-called progress always comes at a cost, and sometimes not very obvious until it is too late.

Finally, did you say your parents/foreparents had many children so thy could get extra help to work the land, milk the cow, tend the sheep. Well, I am not sure which part of Barbados you are from. Where I am from, we never had much land, cows or sheep and did not need extra hands. My parents/foreparents were busy trying to have normal lives coming out of slavery in the late 1800's. Hence, what you say might be more applicable to some other country, but not for the vast majority of us ex-slaves.

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Posted by Kenneth King 1 year, 6 months ago
Some comments here are just left to be desired, first of the World is not over populated and secondly if we read the Bible carefully it did state that God' wish is that we increase and multiply. The problems we are having today with less birth rates are a single fact; couples who would love to have are scared because of uncertainty in the job markets. They want to be able too provide for their family but there are no guarantee, plus many firms are trying to reduce their work force whereby making the situation more complicated.
Personally the price of progress are taking us back to the early problems that caused the global work shortages years ago. We want to improve our standard of living but we are hurting millions because of greed and callous business ethics. The high cost of living are rising yearly at levels that will cause a serious backlash where many companies will either collapse and Government will have to stop wastage of tax payers money and work on programs of development in Agriculture, computer science and how do we save our water supply. With all these challenges facing our society the birth rate will continue to be a major concern.

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Posted by Amanda L 1 year, 6 months ago
As expected, most commentors think our declining birth rate is a good thing and I guess it is to some extent.

But the problem is the nature of the decline - it has just fallen off a cliff, dropping sharply from from the days of about 6 or 7 children per woman to about 1 per woman now. In my own family, my parents have 8 and 7 siblings respectively but not a single one of my aunts and uncles have more than 2 children. And that is the trend across the board.

The question is - now that all those people born in the 6/7 per woman children days are approaching old age who will take care of them and do we have enough in the NIS to sustain them?

Clearly not, since we've been extending and extending the retirement age.

It's not a matter to be taken lightly and we shouldn't just be throwing up our hands and saying "thank goodness!" Yes, we're densely populated but these people born in the days of plenty births are still here and not getting any younger.

Other countries with such dramatically dropping birth rates (Canada, Japan, Italy, Russia off the top of my head) have found it worrisome enough to implement all kinds of policies and incentives to raise the birth rate or increase the population.

What are we going to do?

  • 1
Posted by D. Stoute 1 year, 6 months ago
"its a sad thing when married couples try for years and cannot have a child. It is well known that penis size and sperm counts (and as a consequence fertility rates) are dropping."

Peter: Wait soul, how did penis size get into this discussion? Cuddear, you might be hurting the ego of a lot of men. Are you sure we're on the same topic? Where is your empirical data to support that statistic? smile All jokes aside, I still think the country could use a little break population-wise. I live overseas, and when I see what you guys are paying for just basic things my heart breaks for you. I mean that sincerely. I can understand why people are not eager to have larger families.

Fertility rates are dropping partly because women are choosing to fulfill their career dreams before starting families. As countries become more technologically and economically advanced, people naturally choose to have fewer children. Also, there is a link between increasing female education and a declining birth rate. A lot of young women want a home of their own before a kid of their own. If that's their choice I guess they have to realize that the longer they wait more's the chance that the eggs will turn to raisins. Again, that's their choice.

Kenneth King said the Bible says to be fruitful and multiply. I suppose when you're the only two people on the earth you'd better get busy and be fruitful. Seriously though, we were given brains to think. It looks really stupid being fruitful and multiplying when you don't have a pot to you-know-what in.

In the Bible it talks about allowing the land to lie fallow for a period of seven years so as to reconstitute itself. We could apply that to the human population problem also.

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Posted by Rochelle Taitt 1 year, 6 months ago
@ D Stoute - your thoughts couldn't be better stated! I was wondering what some of our fellow commenters were suggesting when they spoke so nostalgically of the days when people had 9-10 children. They must have forgotten that sometimes only 1 or 2 of those nine could go to school and make a better life for themselves.
Every generation should be better off than the last - I will stick to one child because as I always say, it is easier to find the money to educate one if he decides he wants to be an astrophysicist. Have the children you can afford so you can avoid stifling their dreams!

  • 1
Posted by Peter lane 1 year, 6 months ago
Richard M. Sharpe at the MRC Centre for Reproductive Health, University of Edinburgh, The Queen’s Medical Research Institute in Edinburgh, UK. says " Reduced fertility is not the only impact the present decline in sperm counts will have on unborn children. There will also be the social impact of an ageing population, and an existential impact of whether future generations will come into being at all. The social consequences of fewer young people and many older people will be unprecedented and difficult to predict.

Declining sperm counts and social trends will also have severe consequences for couples and individuals that are affected by infertility. The current trend for couples to have children later in life seems likely to continue in the foreseeable future, which makes it easy to predict that couple fertility problems that are already common are likely to become more so. Declining sperm counts in men will increasingly interact with declining fertility in many women, who will wait longer to try to become mothers.

These are real concerns, but perhaps the most disturbing conclusion is that the evidence for low and falling sperm counts points to a wider issue of the subtle dysfunction of the process that makes men male. If this process is affected by maternal life style and environmental exposures, which a growing body of evidence suggests is the case—and for which falling sperm counts is but one symptom—then what other consequences for the programming of behavor and disease risks will it also bring."

  • 0
Posted by Peter lane 1 year, 6 months ago
Male infertility a Caribbean problem says fertility centre Khan: Birth rate falling

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