University | 7:47 pm | October 26, 2011 | By Marissa Medansky

Childbirth rates drop on Halloween, Yale study says

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Photo by chicks57.

Fact: infants look adorable in pumpkin costumes. See the above. So why do we associate Halloween with candy corn, cheap plastic masks and iconic dance routines performed by the undead, instead of associating it with babies? A new study, released by the Yale School of Public Health, helps explain why so few babies take their first breaths on Oct. 31.

Yale researchers, led by associate professor Becca Levy of the School of Public Health, observed a striking 5.3 percent decrease in spontaneous births on Halloween. Caesarean sections, meanwhile, decreased by 16.9 percent on the year’s spookiest day. In contrast to those findings, the researchers found an increase in births on Valentine’s Day.

Women may try to avoid giving birth on Halloween, the researchers say, due to the “negative connotations” associated with the holiday. In turn, Valentine’s Day’s positive associations make it an attractive option for some mothers-to-be.

The researchers’ results, published in the October issue of “Social Science and Medicine,” lead to some interesting concussions. According to the study’s abstract, the findings suggest the “possibility that pregnant women may be able to control the timing of spontaneous births, in contrast to the traditional assumption, and that scheduled births are also influenced by the cultural representations of the two holidays.” In other words, spontaneous births may not be as spontaneous as doctors and scientists previously believed.

Despite Halloween’s spooky stereotypes, many still call Oct. 31 their birthday. This Monday marks the birthday of several notable public figures, including journalist Dan Rather, Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins, and perennial hair-flipper Willow Smith, who will turn 11 this year.

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