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PSA Officially Released the Philippines 2021 Registered Birth Data on 24th Feb 2023. There is a 10.7% drop in registered births since 2020, a 23.8% drop since 2012.
Philippines will achieve negative population growth by 2028 if current birth and death trends continue.
2021 Birth Data is the same as that released last August 2022, which was effective as of 31 March 2022. This data will not yet reflect all registered births in 2021, as it takes at least 4 months for PSA to complete substantial registration of most births. The live births of 1,364,739 babies were registered in 2021. This drop of 10.7% compared to 2020, may reduce when all late registrations are accounted.
The Philippines has had a 10-year trend of falling birth rates. Between 2012 and 2021 registered live births dropped by 23.8%.
Based on the Philippines population pyramid, the largest population bars are still moving into reproductive age. Thus, it would not be expected that the Philippines should be having such rapidly dropping birth rates, and this makes the observation of rapidly dropping births all the more concerning.
Fewer Marriages in 2020 and 2021
The changes in birth rates in 2021, may be partially related to the big drop in marriages in 2020 (50-year low), which would have been a natural consequence of lockdowns and reduced population movement. Live births take place 9 to 10 months after conception. Thus, births in any year reflect in good part the events and activities of the prior year.
The 2021 marriage data was just updated on 10th February 2023 (also the same as the August 2022 release). 2021 marriage rates did not recover to pre-pandemic levels.
Other contributors to dropping birth rates may be the aggressive family planning measures that have been widely available since 2017.
Majority of Babies Born to Unmarried Mothers. Children also have Babies.
Of the 1,364,739 babies born in 2021, more than half (57.1%) were born to unmarried mothers, out of wedlock. Marriage or lack thereof hasn’t affected procreation. Quite disturbingly there were 2,390 babies born to child mothers younger 15; for some 32, this was their second baby. An additional 133,982 babies were born to children aged between 15 and 19. One of these children had her 6th live birth in 2021. 713,202 (52%) of babies were born to women aged between 20 and 29. 122 babies were born to women aged older than 50.
Also of interest is that 9/10 babies were born with medical attendance, and 9/10 babies weighed 2.5 kg or more.
Drops in Registered Live Births Across All Regions Except BARMM
All regions of the Philippines saw a drop in birth rates in 2021 compared to 2020 (drop ranging from 4.2% in Region IX to 19.1% in NCR, except for BARMM which saw a growth of 6.6%. Birth data by region is now set out.
The province with the highest drop in births in 2021 was National Captial Region (NCR), which includes Manila and surrounding cities, which had a 19.1% drop in registered live births.
Most other regions had drops in registered live births ranging from 4.2% to 12.7% lower than 2020.
Only BARMM, the final figure, had an increase in registered live births of 13.9%, after negative birth growth in 2020.
2021 Should Have Seen Minimal Covid-19 Vaccine Impacts on Fertility / Registered Live Births
2021 birth rates should not have seen much, if any impacts from Covid-19 Vaccination Programs. While vaccination started on 1st March 2021, the rollout to the general population only started by mid-year to 3rd Quarter. Thus, vaccine impacts on birth rates, should become more apparent from approximately March 2022 onwards: 9-10 months post rollout to the general population.
Vaccination of pregnant women was strongly encouraged by the Philippines DOH, and Philippines Obstetric and Gynecological Society. Thus, many pregnant women and women planning pregnancy were vaccinated. If there are adverse impacts on fertility as the international data increasingly suggests, the Philippines may be looking at considerable further drops in live births into 2022 and thereafter.
Should current trending in birth and death rates continue, the Philippines will experience negative population growth within 5 years, likely by 2028. Should deaths accelerate and births drop, this unenviable milestone may be reached sooner, possibly very much sooner.
2022 Preliminary Birth Data is Not Reassuring
Preliminary data on 2022 birth rates seems to show a very concerning continuing drop in births, with births dropping below 2021 levels starting in April (10 months post general rollout), and thereafter seeming to flatten.
While the WHO and Public health official continue to strongly recommend Covid-19 vaccination for most people, there are increasing professional voices calling for a moratorium on further vaccination of all persons of childbearing age or potential, men and women. There are also many anecdotal reports of harm. Now that Covid-19 is nearly universally mild, perhaps erring on the side of caution would be wise.
Public health officials need to investigate. Doctors need to have a very high index of suspicion and to start reporting adverse events if they occur.