May 4, 1998 transcript #: 232-1
Subject(s): barometric pressure, births
Title: WEATHER BIRTHS
By the time a woman reaches her ninth month of pregnancy, she faces a long list of do's and don'ts. One thing not commonly found on that list is an instruction to watch the barometer. Hi Im Dave Thurlow for the Weather Notebook.
A barometer measures air pressure, something that changes with changing weather and some folks say that there is a connection between a drop in air pressure and a rise in birth rates. In fact some doctors even claim that low air pressure during a storm can trigger very pregnant women to go in to labor. For example, After Hurricane Paka hit Guam last December, the New York Times ran a photo caption stating that "Hospital officials said low barometric pressure induced nine women to give birth."
Now what does science have to say about this? Well, not much. There has been one study but no conclusive theory came of it. The change in air pressure used in the study was very small, about a tenth of an inch on the barometer. A hurricane might give a pressure drop of an inch over a few hours. And even that amount of change probably has no direct affect on moms to be. If it did some would have a problem working at the top of tall office buildings where the pressure is about an inch lower than at the street. The elevator would turn into a maternity room. So most likely any increase in births during a hurricane is due to stress not the change in air pressure.
If you have a question about weather please call us at 1-888-724-6001, and we'll put your question on the air. Our show's senior consulting producer is Jay Allison and our engineer is Sean Doucette. The Weather Notebook is a production of the Mount Washington Observatory, supported the NSF and Subaru the beauty of all wheel drive.