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ALTHOUGH `DESERT STORK’ IS BUSY IN MOST OF U.S., HE ISN’T IN UTAH

SHARE ALTHOUGH `DESERT STORK’ IS BUSY IN MOST OF U.S., HE ISN’T IN UTAH

Storks always seem to fly in flocks in Utah.

In a state with a national reputation for its high birthrate, it's hard for the arrival of that gangly bird to create big news.While other states are reporting record-high birthrates nine months after the return of the gulf war troops - calling the phenomenon "Operation Desert Stork" - Utah's birthrate remains steadily high, but with no significant increase.

Head nurses in the labor and maternity wards of Utah's various hospitals haven't noticed any real change of scene since the 4,400 troops have returned.

"Our birthrate is always high in Utah, so I'm not sure you would notice a difference," says Nurse Jan-ine Bawden, University of Utah Medical Center.

In December, there were 159 births in 1991. An average number is between 175 to 200 births in a month. That numbers dips slightly in December because December is an unpopular time of year to have babies when people have a choice, she said.

Still, in the heart of babyland, Alta Hospital nurse Jan-eba Babbel, shift coordinator for the labor and delivery, has not seen any increase in births - but hopes she will. "The more births, the more job security," she quips.

Utah County reports the same unspectacular news - "No noticeable increase," reports spokeman Bryant Larsen, spokesman for Utah County Medical Center.

At LDS Hospital, head nurse Jackie McFalls of labor and delivery reports 281 babies born in December 1991 compared with 276 in 1990. "I don't know if we can attribute the increase to Operation Desert Stork or not, though," she said.

At Cottonwood Hospital, nurse Sherry Holbrook says the delivery room is a little busier than usual for January but wouldn't call it a "baby boom."

In states where births are bigger news, the national trend reflects the byproducts of emotional reunions.

For the six months between April 1 and Sept. 30 of last year, there were 1,835 requests for obstetric and gynecological services from military families in Los Angeles and Orange Counties, The Orange County Register reported Saturday. During the same period in 1990, there were 859, even though the number of military women and wives at the bases was about the same.

The Pentagon also reported that pregnancies among military families have doubled at Fort Campbell, Ky., and Fort Hood, Texas.

Los Angeles-area obstetricians also report a surge in military-related pregnancies.