, August 30, 2011

Hurricane Irene's sweep up the East Coast spawned a swath of damage from powerful winds and rains, but also a legacy of a happier sort -- a crew of new babies born in the heart of a howling storm. Some hospitals dotting the Eastern seaboard reported sharp upticks in hurricane births over the wild weekend, giving new life to an old rumor about a drop in barometric pressure sending women into labor. At Sentara Obici Hospital in Suffolk, VA, 15 babies were born between Friday night and Sunday morning, topping the usual three or four in a typical day, said Sharon Hoggard, spokeswoman for Sentara Health System. Specific studies of the link between barometric pressure and labor have found small associations, but no clear ties. And some studies have found no relationship at all. Wall-to-wall hurricane coverage might send some women to the hospital earlier than usual, and people might pay attention more when a flurry of babies is born in a storm.

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