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Hurricane Babies: Dozens Born in North Carolina, Virginia Hospitals As Irene Made Its Way Up East Coast

The Huffington Post   First Posted: 08/29/11 07:03 PM ET Updated: 10/29/11 06:12 AM ET

Hurricane Irene Babies

Hurricane Irene may have left millions without power, but she also left dozens of parents with new babies.

As the storm barreled up the East Coast this weekend, hospitals in North Carolina and Virginia reported delivering a surprising number of newborns.

Seventeen babies were born within 18 hours at one North Carolina hospital, according to the Associated Press. The number comes as a shock to doctors who say 10 deliveries in a 24-hour period is average for them. Hospitals in the Sentara area of Virginia reported more than three dozen births as Irene passed through the state, the Daily Press reports.

Although none of the babies born during the storm was named Irene, the nomer wasn't completely off the table for some parents.

Martha Harlan, a spokesperson for New Hanover Regional Medical Center in North Carolina, said two couples toyed with the idea of using "Irene" as a middle name, according to the UPI.

There is no confirmation on what the parents decided, but one Pennsylvania couple may have taken the storm into consideration when naming their baby boy, Manual Hurricane Cooper, CBS Philadelphia reports.

"Irene" might have not made the cut time around, some suspect the name might gain steam nine months from now.

Legend has it that disasters lead to a spike in birthrates. After all, some may say that no electricity leaves little options for amusement. The History Channel investigates:


The legend of the calamity-induced baby boom dates back to the so-called Great Blackout, which plunged an immense swath of Canada and the United States into darkness for up to 13 hours on November 9, 1965. The disruption occurred when an overloaded transmission line in Ontario failed, creating a domino effect that shut down the power grid as far south as New Jersey. Some 30 million people, including most New Yorkers, spent the night without electricity as a full moon illuminated the sky.

The following August, The New York Times published a series of articles suggesting the stage was set for romance that evening. Several New York City hospitals were noticing a “sharp increase in births” nine months after the blackout, the paper reported. One story quoted a sociologist conducting a study on the spike, who explained, “Our data show that most people wound up at home. They didn’t have access to a major source of amusement—television. Under the circumstances, it’s not unreasonable to assume that a lot of sex life went on.”

Urban legend? Maybe. But children born after major disasters, such as Sept. 11 and Hurricane Katrina, do remain in the eye of the public for quite some time -- birthrate spike or not.

In 2005, thousands of residents evacuated the Louisiana area in anticipation of Hurricane Katrina, and among those residents were hundreds of pregnant women. Those children flooded classrooms this month as they began Kindergarten in schools that likely didn't exist at the time of their births, according to the Times-Picayune, NOLA.com.

Perhaps these children are reminders of new beginnings. After all, all they will know of the disasters that preceded them is what they'll hear from family members or read in books.

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