Changes in Total Number of Births and Birth Size during the 1995-2013: The Reflection of Socio-Economic Fluctuations in Lithuania?
The aim of the study was to examine changes of total number of births and birth weight of Lithuanian newborns during the 1995–2013 in relation to the national and regional socio-economic welfare and governmental maternity support. The present results were based on Lithuanian Medical Data of Births Register. Only data of single newborns of identifiable sex, whose mothers were citizens of Lithuania, were included into the present analysis, and total number of analysed cases was N=597091. The total number of births dramatically decreased during the 1995-2002, slightly increased in the 2007-2009, and decreased again in the 2010-2013. Diminishing index was in line with increase of unemployment rate and decline of total Lithuanian population. Increase in number of births was estimated only in the 2007-2009, when maternity benefits were increased very evidently. The significant differences of mean birth weight by year were observed: the decrease in boys’ weight was detected in the 2001-2003, and the decrease in girls’ weight was detected in the 1995-1996 and in the 2001-2003 (p<0.05). However, the increase in weight of both sexes was observed in the 2008-2010 (right after raised maternal allowance). The prevalence of low and suboptimal birth weight was the highest in the 2002 and the lowest – in the 2008-2010 years. The obvious regional differences in changes of total number of births and birth weight were estimated.