Could Greater Victoria experience a baby boom in nine months following this recent run of winter weather and power outages? Don’t count on it. (Black Press File)

Will winter weather and power outages lead to a baby boom in Greater Victoria?

Anecdotal evidence suggests yes, research says no

First things first. People do not necessarily get busier – if you get the drift – when extreme events like winter storms keep them inside and bring down the lights.

Nine months after an ice storm had caused catastrophic damage across Quebec and other parts of North America in early 1998, demographers scoffed at the notion that this extreme weather event had any significant bearing on live birth rates in the province.

RELATED: Snow delays in Greater Victoria: traffic, buses, flights impacted

After the 1998 storm, a demographer with Quebec’s statistics bureau told local media that birth rates increasing after these types of events are a myth.

But at least one hospital in the Montreal area recorded an uptick in births in October (nine months after the storm), in what was usually a slow month for births.

RELATED: Another snow day for Greater Victoria students

Similar stories have also emerged from the Greater Toronto Area, where hospitals reported a baby bump in September 2014 — nine months after an ice storm had hit that city.

Notwithstanding this anecdotal evidence, extreme weather events such as Quebec’s ice storm of 1998 can leave behind a permanent genetic legacy among the children born at the time.

Researchers at Douglas Mental Health University Institute and McGill University found that the level of objective hardships experienced by pregnant women at the time left behind a distinct imprint on their genes.

RELATED: Power out at Victoria International Airport

While the health impact on these children is less clear, according to the study, changes in genes regulating immunity and sugar metabolism may put them at a greater risk to develop asthma, diabetes or obesity.

These findings are among a treasure trove of findings that the Quebec ice storm of 1998 has yielded. Researchers working on Project Ice Storm started to study the effects of stress on pregnant women, their pregnancies, and their unborn children soon after the January 1998 had plunged more than 3 million Quebecers into darkness for as long as 45 days, according to McGill.

RELATED: Snow shovels, salt flying off the shelves in Victoria

Overall, the team has been following a group of about 150 families, in which the mother was pregnant during the ice storm or became pregnant shortly after, to observe the immediate effects of different levels and types of stress on unborn children.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

New BC Ferries hybrid-electric vessels arrive in Victoria

BC Ferries plans to add four more hybrid-electric vessels to fleet

Blue Monday is a myth but seasonal affective disorder and winter blues are real

Canadian Mental Health Association says weather can affect mood

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers sees 37 per cent increase in tips in 2019

The non-profit takes anonymous tips from the public, brings information to police

Almost 150 calls of service for Westshore Towing during snowstorm

Most calls were from Sooke, Metchosin and Highlands

VIDEO: Cold snap brings ideal conditions for Okanagan icewine

Take an inside look at how icewine is made

PHOTOS: Eastern Newfoundland reeling, search underway for missing man after blizzard

More than 70 centimetres of new snow fell overnight, creating whiteout conditions

Prince Harry, Meghan to give up ‘royal highness’ titles

‘Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved members of my family,’ says Queen Elizabeth II

Ice chunk from truck crushes vehicle windshield on Vancouver Island

None injured, but Nanaimo RCMP say there can be fines for accumulations of ice and snow

B.C. society calls out conservation officer after dropping off bear cub covered in ice

Ice can be seen in video matted into emaciated bear cub’s fur

Calls for dialogue as Coastal GasLink pipeline polarizes some in northern B.C.

Coastal GasLink is building the 670-kilometre pipeline from British Columbia’s northeast to Kitimat on the coast

Intense winds en route to Greater Victoria

Winter storm warning in effect for east and west regions while wind warning to hit south and north

Theft victim confronts suspects with baseball bat on Vancouver Island

RCMP in Nanaimo seek to identify of two people alleged to have used a stolen credit card

Closed mills, housing surge support a positive forecast for lumber industries

B.C. lumber producers have closed mills accounting for 18% of province’s capacity, RBC report says

Most Read