Portugal once again surpasses the 80 thousand births barrier


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September was the month that registered the highest number of “heel prick” tests in 2022 and Lisbon was the city that screened the most newborns.

Portugal has once again surpassed the barrier of 80,000 births in 2022, after the historic drop in birth rates in 2021, reveal data based on the “heel prick”, according to which 4,219 more babies were born last year compared to the previous year.

According to data from the National Neonatal Screening Program (PNRN), which covers almost all births in Portugal, 83,436 newborns were studied in 2022, an increase of 5.3% compared to 2021 (79,217), the year in which Portugal had the lowest number of births.

Before this minimum recorded in 2021, the lowest number had been verified in 2014, with 83,100 exams performed in the country, and the highest in the year 2000 (118,577), according to data consulted by Lusa.

September was the month that recorded the highest number of “heel prick tests” last year (7,979), followed by August (7,862), November (7,544), October (7,147), March (7,097), May (6,915), June (6,904), December (6.744), July (6.763), January (6.482), February (6.049) and April (5.950), need the data advanced to the Lusa agency by the National Institute of Health Dr. Ricardo Jorge (INSA), coordinator of the screening program.

The data indicate that the Azores was the only region in the country that screened fewer newborns in 2022 compared to the previous year, totaling 1,997, six fewer than in 2021, and Portalegre matched the number of births (584).

Lisbon was the city that screened the most newborns, totaling 24,842, up 1,348 compared to 2021, followed by Porto, with 15,255, up 519 from the previous year.

Braga registered 6,407 births in 2022, 574 more than in 2021, and Setúbal registered 6,373, 454 more, according to data from the “heel prick”, which is performed from the third day of life and allows the detection of 27 diseases, enabling early intervention and a healthier development of children.

Commenting on these data to Lusa, demographer Maria João Valente Rosa highlighted the fact that Portugal has once again surpassed the 80,000 birth barrier, “the psychological number” that one has in one’s head when one speaks of few births.

The university professor at the Faculty of Social and Human Sciences at the New University of Lisbon said that these data and the data from the National Institute of Statistics, which report to November 2022, also indicate that the natural balance (the difference between those who are born and those who die) will be “less low than in 2021,” a year in which more than 45,000 died than were born.

“In 2022, because of this increase in births, which is not very significant, and also because of the evolution of deaths, we can conclude that the natural balance will not be as negative as it was in 2021, but it will still be very negative,” he stressed.

According to the demographer, what we are seeing “is the result of something that happened in the very recent past, which led to the delay of the parenthood project” at the time of the covid-19 pandemic due to fear, insecurity, instability, namely labor instability, among other reasons.

In his view, these births are in part a result of this decision that came to fruition as early as 2021 with results in 2022.

“This delay in the project can also mean that, in many cases, a second and third birth will not happen even if people want one, because a woman’s fertile period is limited and the biological capacity to have children decreases after the age of 35,” he explained.

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