New report shows decline in birth rate

MERCED, Calif.

A lullaby plays over the loudspeakers at Mercy Medical Center Merced every time a baby is born there.

"This morning I was in my 8 til noon meeting and heard the lullaby 3 times," Mercy Medical Family Birthing Center Dir. Becky Ables said.

Ables says the hospital has seen an 8 percent increase in births since moving into this new facility in may. But overall, the numbers are still down from last year.

"Year to date we have seen a four percent decrease from 2009 to 2010."

A new report by the state's demographic research unit shows the number of babies being born in Merced County has decreased every year since 2006.

Births have also declined statewide in recent years, and the drop between 2008 and 2009 is the largest California has seen in 19 years. Analysts say the economy is largely to blame because more parents feel they can't afford to have children something these mothers find sad.

"I would say being a mom is the best thing I've ever done--hardest thing I've ever done, but also the best," mother of four Wendy Spencer said.

The declining birth rate is also a concern for school districts because fewer babies now -- means fewer students in the years ahead.

"We get our funding based on students in the seat, by enrollment, and actually attendance," Assoc. Supt. Merced City School District Greg Spicer said. "Every 24 means you have a teacher, but 24 less means you don't have a teacher."

But the good news is Merced County and the state as a whole are expected to have more births every year for at least the next decade.

"The expense can get crazy, but we have a budget that we follow really strictly and we just make sure we plan together so we can provide for all of our children," mother of three Summer Mitchell said.

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