September babies abound

Elizabeth Crandall holds her baby girl, Julia Kathryn Crandall, in the Neonatal Intensive Care Nursery at MUSC on Wednesday. Julia Kathryn was the only girl of triplets born to Elizabeth and her husband, Lt. Col. Jason Crandall.

Evan Michael Burnette was the star of the show when he made his first appearance in this world late Wednesday night. But he’ll be sharing the spotlight in years to come when birthdays roll around.

You see, his mom’s father, brother, aunt, nephew and cousin were all born in September. Oh, and his dad’s sister was a September baby as well.

“It just seems to run in the family,” his mother, Christina Burnette, said as she held little Evan at Roper St. Francis Hospital in West Ashley, just hours after his birth.

If so, then the Burnettes are in good company. September is a boom month in the baby business around the Lowcountry.

Roper St. Francis, for instance, had 26 babies in its nursery in one week this month, and all 12 rooms in labor and delivery were full, clinical manager Millie Feagin said. They’ve had 70 babies born there in just the first 13 days of the month, she said.

Area hospitals traditionally see a spike in births this time of year, with August also posting high numbers. No records have been broken but it has been busy.

It’s not just here either. Some 4 million babies are born each year in the United States, and September has led the field in recent years in birthing numbers, according to the National Center for Health Statistics at the Centers for Disease Control.

If you do the math, that puts the moment of conception around the holidays. Theories abound as to why.

Some suggest cooler weather causes couples to cuddle. Others opine that good will and cheer kindles romance. A few even think football bowl games play a role, stoking high spirits and breeding a sense of shared purpose.

Karen Stephenson, a nurse manager at Medical University Hospital, has been delivering babies for decades, but even she’s not sure what causes so many couples to conceive around the start of the new year. “We’re not in on that end of things,” she said with a chuckle.

Her hospital recorded more than 200 births last month, about the same as the previous year. Elizabeth Crandall of Daniel Island did her part to keep the numbers up in September as well, giving birth on the 10th to triplets.

Crandall underwent in vitro fertilization to conceive, which can up the chances for multiple births. But she still wasn’t prepared for the news that she had three kids on the way. “I didn’t know it was possible to laugh and cry at the same time, but it is.”

Her husband, Air Force Lt. Col. Jason Crandall, got home from a training mission in Dubai just in time to welcome the trio into the world. All are doing fine.

The triplets were born just six days shy of what one Harvard professor has determined to be the most popular day for the birthdays in the nation: Sept. 16.

Amitabh Chandra, a professor of public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, arrived at that finding after crunching the numbers on birth data from 1973 to 1999. If you’re wondering, the least popular birth dates were Feb. 29 and Dec. 25.

Dr. Maggie Evans, an OB-GYN physician at East Cooper Medical Center in Mount Pleasant, has seen the trend first-hand. “We have had a lot of babies in the last month or so,” she said.

August brought 149 babies to East Cooper, the most of any month this year to date. And September is on pace to be abundant with babies as well.

In her seven years at East Cooper, Evans has delivered more babies than she can count and she’s seen trends emerge. Births tend to fluctuate with the economy – when times are good or getting better, people are more likely to have kids. A full moon seems to nudge some pregnancies into labor, as do changes in barometric pressure when a big storm is afoot, she said.

As September and August are smack in the middle of hurricane season, maybe that timing could be helping their numbers as well.

Deona Ryan is director of women’s and children services for Trident Health and was an August baby herself. She said the area’s military connection also appears to play a role in the late summer boom, as soldiers often return from deployments around the holidays and reconnect with their significant others.

Whatever the reason, it’s been busy over at Trident as well, with 273 babies born in August at the two hospital campuses and more than 50 so far this month, Ryan said.

Sara and Chip Parker of Mount Pleasant figured they would have plenty of company when their son arrived. After all, the childbirth classes they attended during her pregnancy were all packed with women expecting around September. When their son, Jackson, was born on Sept. 11 he was the fifth baby delivered by their doctor that day at East Cooper.

Sara Parker said they are thrilled with their September baby, but they really didn’t plan on any particular month. “We had been trying for a while and we just happened to get lucky.”