Dragon baby fever taking hold at fertility centers

By Wei Yi-chia, Tsai Chang-sheng and Lin Shu-hui  /  Staff Reporters

Mon, May 16, 2011 - Page 2

Requests for artificial insemination have increased by at least 10 percent this month because of the desire to have a child next year — the year of the Dragon in the Chinese zodiac — gynecologists said.

The director of the Gynecology Department Infertility Center at Shin Kong Wu Ho-Su Memorial Hospital, Huang Chien-jung (黃建榮), said that dragon fever had already started, giving the example of a couple who had changed their schedule for intrauterine insemination to next month after -taking into consideration that they would not be having a dragon-year baby if they had undergone the procedure last month.

Statistics from the Ministry of the Interior showed that the first dragon-baby boom in Taiwan occurred in 1976, with a total of 425,000 babies born that year — 50,000 more than in 1975. In the next year of the dragon, 1988, 342,000 babies were born, 208,000 more than in 1987. In 2000, the most recent year of the dragon, 202,000 more babies were born than in 1999.

Taiwan Society for Reproductive Medicine director Lee Mao-sheng (李茂盛) said the dragon effect could lead to an increase of between 180,000 and 200,000 newborns.

Lin Cheng-kai (林正凱), head of the Reproductive Medicine Center at Hsinchu Cathay General Hospital, said the 100 or so couples coming in each month had increased to 200 starting last month, adding that a 30 percent increase in appointments for artificial insemination had been observed this month.

As the summer vacation approaches, more people are making appointments, Lin said, adding that military personnel, civil servants and teachers topped the list.

Hsu Jenn-jeih (徐振傑), deputy director of gynecology at Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, said women who were successfully impregnated on May 14 and with a full 40-week pregnancy would be expected to give birth on Feb. 8.

Hsu added that with the first day of the Lunar New Year falling on Jan. 23, even children who were born after a 38-week pregnancy — which accounts for between 60 percent and 70 percent of pregnancies — would still be dragon babies.

However, babies born during the 37th week of pregnancy would be rabbits, Hsu said.

TRANSLATED BY JAKE CHUNG, STAFF WRITER