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November 19, 2013

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Home » Metro » Health and Science

City maternity wards can handle policy change

SHANGHAI doesn’t need extra maternity ward beds to cope with a change to the one-child policy, city health authorities insisted yesterday.

Officials said they do not expect a new baby boom with a relaxation of family planning policies which would allow couples of whom only one is an only child to have two children.

This would affect about 400,000 Shanghai couples.

Currently, both parents must come from one-child families to qualify.

The change was announced nationally last Friday, and the city is expected to introduce it in between six months and a year Ñ once local regulations are amended and measures such as birth insurance updated.

Song Guofan, an official at Shanghai Health and Family Planning Commission, said yesterday that the city has sufficient obstetrics facilities.

Bed shortages occur because too many women seek a place in top maternity hospitals, while in district hospitals beds lie empty, said Song.

Since 2007, Shanghai has experienced a baby boom, expected to end in 2017.

Last year, the city had 81 hospitals providing maternity services.

These have a total of 3,664 beds and can deliver more than 250,000 babies a year.

A record number of nearly 240,000 babies were born in Shanghai last year, the auspicious Year of the Dragon.

This year, the Shanghai No.1 Maternity and Child Hospital and Shanghai International Peace Maternity and Child Health Hospital Ñ both top maternity hospitals Ñ opened new premises, offering nearly 300 extra beds.

With the Year of the Dragon ended, the number of children born in the first half of this year fell 10 percent compared to the same period last year, hospital officials said.

And many couples won’t want a second child out of a lifestyle choice, said the commission.

“We’re not worried about a big rise in numbers of babies,” said Pan Minghua, a commission official. “Based on our survey, most local young couples don’t want to have a second baby.

“Babies who are a second child covered less than 10 percent of babies delivered by the registered population annually in past years, even though couples who both come from one-child families can have a second baby,” added Pan.



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