NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - The COVID-19 pandemic has put a lot of things on hold for people including starting a family.

According to researchers at Brookings Institute, there is a good chance a COVID-19 baby bust could be a reality.

Emily Eldridge and her husband Taylor are 14 weeks along into their pregnancy.

“We definitely have been navigating a whole new thing we never thought we would have to do when starting a family," Emily Eldridge said. "When we found out it was kind of a scary thing because we were in the midst of the start of the pandemic, but at that time we thought it would only last about a month.”

A month turned into months and the pandemic is still impacting the world.

Dr. Jennifer Thompson is an Assistant Professor in Maternal Fetal Medicine at Vanderbilt Medical University Center.

She said it’s not uncommon for health concerns to impact potential growing families.

“When we look at the birth rates related to the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, which is kind of what we have to compare to," Thompson said. "They saw that when the increase in the severity of disease went up there was also a corresponding decrease in birth rate.”

One of the factors in this is the economy. Eldridge said she and her husband, who’s a part-time nurse, briefly felt the effects of the down economy.

“Right after we found out we were pregnant he was furloughed," Eldridge said. "He was able to use his vacation time in order to still get a paycheck but that was worrisome there for a little while.”

Researchers are saying we could see between 300,000 to half a million fewer babies next year.

However, Dr. Thompson said they are still seeing the same amount of pregnant patients compared to this time last year.

“We have not seen a decline in birth rates at this point," Thompson said. "But, I think one thing that is important to realize is that this impact is going to affect years to come, not an immediate impact.”

One thing is certain, the pandemic is not stealing the joy away from expectant parents.

“We’re due actually on Christmas Day," Eldridge said. "So it’s kind of like a gift of new life and also new hope that maybe we will finally be as a nation able to move past all of this." 

To read the full study by Brookings Institute, click here. 

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