Sporting Baby Booms: From the thrill of victory to the agony of…. the labour ward

Nine months ago, the Chicago Cubs baseball team finally put a 108-year history of failure behind them to secure a World Series triumph that had eluded them, the pursuit of which gave rise to many suggestions that the team were cursed for a range of weird and wild reasons.

That victory sparked scenes of jubilation in the Windy City and beyond as the club’s legion of fans expressed their delight at securing a title that had for so long seemed beyond them.

As well as those public celebrations, there must have been some rather private and, ahem, intimate celebrations….

The Chicago Tribune is claiming that local hospitals have reported an upswing in births at this time, with the Cubs’ sporting success believed to be responsible for fathering the increase:

“Chicago hospitals are reporting a spike in the number of births this month, and doctors are hearing anecdotally that the mothers visiting their delivery rooms conceived their children during the Cubs’ playoffs. The due dates typically start in July and carry into August.

At Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center, doctors say they’ve noticed the number of deliveries going up and expect the trend to continue through August. Between July 10 and 18, the stretch with the highest surge, the hospital had almost double the amount of deliveries each day compared with its normal average, said Dr. Melissa Dennis, vice chairwoman of obstetrics and gynecology. While she can’t scientifically link the birth increase to the World Series, she said those babies’ due dates could have easily fallen on July 26 — exactly 38 weeks after Game 7. An average pregnancy is 38 to 40 weeks depending on how it is measured.”

This week, the Cubs organisation has been visiting local hospitals to welcome newborn babies to a ‘Newborn Fan Club.’ According to CSN Chicago :

“In a press release on Monday, the Cubs celebrated this correlation by announcing that babies born around now would receive membership to the ‘Newborn Fan Club’ as well as a Cubs “Rookie of the Year” onesie, Cubs pinstripe beanie cap, custom-made birth certificate and personalized Wrigley Field Marquee photo.

Apparently, this is nothing new.

The Chicago Tribune article notes how, in 2013, researchers with the British Medical Journal (BMJ) concluded that “the heightened euphoria following a sports victory can spur sensations that lead to intimate celebrations, and, in turn, unplanned pregnancies.” This was in relation to a study conducted following a famous sporting moment involving one of the giants of world football, Barcelona.

In 2009, Andres Iniesta scored a last-minute winner for Barcelona against Chelsea to secure a place in the Champions League final. A 2010 New York Times article noted how this was being linked to a marked increase in births in the Catalonian capital:

Reuters reported the maternity wards at hospitals in the capital of Catalonia have been jammed after an increase in births of almost 50 percent. COMRadio’s survey of area hospitals found that births this week and those expected soon are more than 45 percent above the average.

Residents have dubbed the surge in births the Iniesta Generation. It is not known, however, how many of the bouncing young Catalans have been named Andrés.

“When we notice some sort of surge we look for the reason and it’s evident that the cause of the increase this week is the euphoria of Barca fans thanks to the huge win and Iniesta’s goal,” Mercedes Rodriguez of the city’s Quiron Clinic told the daily El Mundo.

The BMJ report found that the reported increases were nowhere near the 45% mark initially suggested, but still represented a significant increase in the regions investigated as part of the study.

Nine months after the Kansas City Royals won a World Series title in 2014, a city hospital reported a similar surge in baby births, whilst an Icelandic doctor tweeted earlier this year that his hospital had set a record for the number of epidurals administered on the maternity ward exactly nine months after the country’s footballers famously knocked England out of Euro 2016.

With apologies to ABC…. Across the wide sporting world, the picture would appear to be the same: from the thrill of victory to the agony of defeat the labour ward.