Falling national birth rate doesn't seem to apply to East Texas

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Joann Hunt takes care of many of the babies born to local moms as a Labor and Delivery Nurse at Lufkin's Memorial Hospital.

"We have not seen a decrease at all.  We actually are probably a little bit more this year than last year," said Hunt.

Which isn't what's happening nationally. In fact, for the third straight year, moms had fewer babies causing the U.S. birth rate to fall.  Most experts blame it on the economy, but that doesn't seem to be the case here locally.

"The economy just has not affected the birth rate at all," said Hunt.

Whatever their age or background, if a pregnant woman is struggling, there's a place to go in Lufkin.  They can earn free diapers, wipes, clothes for participating in the Pregnancy Help Center's education program. What they've seen shows the economy hasn't paused pregnancies.

"Over the past five years, we have seen a steady increase year-to-year," said Paula Havard, Exec. Dir Pregnancy Help Center.

There's one exception to the national birth rate stats: women over 40 having babies is increasing. But again, East Texas is the opposite.

"We see very few moms over 40," said Hunt.

However, Nurse Hunt says if they did decide to have babies later, it's much easier now than in the past.

"Prenatal care has improved vastly over the years so mom's can get better screening," said Hunt.

Whatever the age, getting mom's ready to parent - whether they're ready financially - is the Pregnancy Help Center's mission.

"Hopefully, not only helping them with resources they need, but bringing joy to the journey. When you're faced with financial difficulties on top of it - there's sometimes not a lot of joy," said Havard.

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