INDIA: According to The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), India is expected to record the highest number of births in the 9 months since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic in March. More than 20 million babies are expected to be born in the country between March and December.

These babies are projected to be born up to 40 weeks after COVID-19 was recognised as a pandemic on March 11.

In India, about 20.1 million babies are projected to be born between March 11 and December 16. While for the January-December 2020 period,

It is estimated that there will be 24.1 million total births in the country.

As per UNICEF, other countries with the expected highest numbers of births during this period are China (13.5 million), Nigeria (6.4 million), Pakistan (5 million) and Indonesia (4 million).

“Most of these countries had high neonatal mortality rates even before the pandemic and may see these levels increase with COVID-19 conditions,” UNICEF said.

It further stated that pregnant mothers and babies born during the pandemic across the world were poorly affected by the disrupted medical services, lack of health system as well as other important services due to the lockdown in many countries across the globe.

Cautioning people for the future, it said that COVID-19 containment measures can disturb life-saving health services such as childbirth care, putting millions of pregnant mothers and their babies at great risk.

“New mothers and newborns will be greeted by harsh realities,” UNICEF said, adding they include global containment measures such as lockdowns and curfews; health centres overwhelmed with response efforts; supply and equipment shortages; and a lack of sufficient skilled birth attendants as health workers, including midwives, are redeployed to treat COVID-19 patients.

While it is not yet known whether the virus is transmitted from a mother to her baby during pregnancy and delivery, UNICEF advised all pregnant women to follow precautions to protect themselves from exposure to the virus.