by Nicole Martinelli
posted Thu 11 Sept. 8:24 am
Northern Italy’s hospitals are overflowing with a bumper crop of newborn bambini after decades of low birth rates. Milan alone counted a record 2,000 stork visits in July and August, an 8% jump over 2002. After similar reports came in from the provinces of Venice and Piedmont, officials started scrambling to plan for this unexpected mini-boom in births.
“It’s an exciting piece of news,” said Dr. Guido Moro of Macedonio Melloni hospital in Milan. “The media bombarded us all summer long with the tragic news of elderly death rates caused by the heat — but there are hospitals very, very busy giving life.”
It’s a step in what may be a small turnaround in Italy’s dismal birth rates. The last data available, 2001, also showed a slight uptick — for the first time in almost a decade, the number of births were higher than deaths in the Bel Paese. The profile of less traditional mamma also factors in — officials said more mothers today are closer to age 40 than 30 and many are having children with a second partner, while foreign-born mothers account for 20% of the total.
Hard to say whether economic aid or the more or less constant pleas from the Vatican are having a significant effect on increasing Italian offspring. Towns throughout the country now offer ‘social subsidies’ that grow with the family. A typical program offers cash for the first five years of a child’s life, doubling for every sibling added to the family.
Some of the more whimsical initiatives honoring precious newborns are bound to cause trouble if the trend keeps up, especially if it doubles as predicted by 2013. Towns like Moretta, where the main square lights up for each new citizen could become a disco-strobe disaster. Or perhaps there’s a full-time job for a bard in Monza, where each family is sent a personalized poem marking the event.
The mayor of Venice is taking a more pragmatic approach to the first flood of babies La Serenissima has seen in decades. In a special conference, Paolo Costa congratulated local officials for holding up ‘under emergency’ but that it was time to plan for this new and rapidly growing population.©1999-2003 zoomata.com
Italian e-cards for new babies….