Jan 23, 2023 - News

The Triangle's baby boom continues

A high-rise hospital surrounded by a parking lot, trees and a pond.

UNC Health opened a hospital in Holly Springs in 2021 that expanded maternity services to southern Wake County. Photo courtesy of UNC Health

The number of babies born in the Triangle continued to increase last year, according to data from WakeMed and UNC Health, two of the area's largest hospital systems.

Why it matters: The region's growing economy is attracting more young families to the area, and, in turn, those young families are feeling confident enough in the area to raise their children here.

  • "That's certainly a sign of growth and vitality in the Triangle area," Karen Benjamin Guzzo, director of Carolina Population Center, told Axios in an email. "More rural parts of the state didn’t have an influx of new people and, in fact, generally lost population."

The growth also means potential strains on the services that children use, whether it is classrooms and daycare or swim classes and soccer fields.

  • "To put that in perspective, a new kindergarten class is born within the WakeMed system every day," WakeMed spokesperson Kristin Kelly said.
Data: UNC Health and WakeMed; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: UNC Health and WakeMed; Chart: Axios Visuals

Zoom in: The region has seen an increasing number of births for years, which is one reason UNC sought to build a hospital that opened in Holly Springs in 2021. That hospital delivered more than 500 babies last year.

  • "The goal all along was to provide specialized medical care closer to home in a fast growing part of the region," UNC Health spokesperson Alan Wolf told Axios. "Southeastern Wake County and the surrounding communities are growing by leaps and bounds and it is an area that was not really being served."

Between the lines: While the number of babies being born was up in absolute numbers, the number of births per women of childbearing age in the Triangle was still down from previous years.

  • The rates were higher in 2016 or 2017, Guzzo said, meaning most of the increase in births is due to simply more women of childbearing age moving here.

Yes, but: Both the rate and number of births are up since 2020, after a decline during the first year of the pandemic.

Zoom out: The U.S. birth rate has fallen sharply since 2007.

  • As Axios' Neil Irwin reported, declining birth rates nationally pose a threat to the U.S. economy if there aren't enough people being born to produce goods and support programs like Social Security.

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