Most births this year added a child be­yond first one

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - CHINA - By WANG XIAODONG wangx­i­aodong@ chi­

More than half of the births in China dur­ing the first five months of the year in­volved a se­cond child — or even ad­di­tional ones — more than a year af­ter the uni­ver­sal se­cond-child pol­icy was in­tro­duced in Jan­uary 2016, ac­cord­ing to China’s top health author­ity.

The num­ber of births at Chi­nese hos­pi­tals be­tween Jan­uary and May was 7.4 mil­lion, an in­crease of 7.8 per­cent over the same pe­riod last year, Wang Peian, vice-min­is­ter of the Na­tional Health and Fam­ily Plan­ning Com­mis­sion, said at an an­nual meet­ing of the China Pop­u­la­tion As­so­ci­a­tion held in Kun­ming, Yun­nan prov­ince, last week.

Of all births in the first five months, 57.7 per­cent were at least the se­cond child of their par­ents, an in­crease of 8.5 per­cent­age points over the same pe­riod last year, he said.

The to­tal num­ber of births at hos­pi­tals in China last year was about 18.5 mil­lion, the high­est level since 2000, ac­cord­ing to the com­mis­sion. More than 99 per­cent of births in China take place in hos­pi­tals.

The uni­ver­sal se­cond-child pol­icy has pro­duced good re­sults, and the num­ber of ba­bies born has been in­creas­ing sig­nif­i­cantly de­spite a drop in the num­ber of women of fer­tile age, Wang said.

Over the past year, health author­i­ties have been im­prov­ing mea­sures to sup­port the pol­icy and es­tab­lish a so­cial en­vi­ron­ment that en­cour­ages child­birth, he said.

With an in­creas­ing num­ber of preg­nan­cies, China faces some health chal­lenges in the next few years — for ex­am­ple, a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of the mothers are over 35 — ac­cord­ing to health of­fi­cials and doc-



To­tal num­ber of preg­nant women older than 35 through 2020. The num­ber is ex­pected to re­main sta­ble.

tors. The num­ber of preg­nant women over age 35 is ex­pected to re­main at about 3 mil­lion through 2020.

“Sur­veys show that many cou­ples from the gen­er­a­tion born in the 1970s who were hes­i­tant about hav­ing a se­cond child dur­ing the ini­tial pe­riod when the uni­ver­sal se­cond-child pol­icy was adopted are now hur­ry­ing to give birth to a se­cond child so they won’t miss that last chance,” Ma Xiaowei, another vice-min­is­ter of the com­mis­sion, said last week.

In Guilin, in the Guangxi Zhuang au­ton­o­mous re­gion, more than 28 per­cent of women who gave birth last year were at higher risk in preg­nancy and child­birth, ac­cord­ing to a re­port in Guilin Even­ing News on Fri­day. One fac­tor was age.

At Guilin Women and Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal, doc­tors saved 140 preg­nant women in crit­i­cal con­di­tion in the first half of the year. The old­est preg­nant woman treated so far this year was 56, the re­port said.

China in­tro­duced its fam­ily plan­ning pol­icy in the late 1970s to check its soar­ing pop­u­la­tion by lim­it­ing most ur­ban cou­ples to one child. Cou­ples in ru­ral ar­eas could have a se­cond child if the first one was a girl, and in some eth­nic re­gions cou­ples in ru­ral ar­eas could have more than two chil­dren.

A ma­jor pol­icy change at the end of 2013 al­lowed cou­ples na­tion­wide to have a se­cond child if ei­ther par­ent was an only child. That lim­i­ta­tion was erased last year.

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