Hurricane Ike spawned baby boom?

HOUSTON Many people were stranded at home with no electricity for days or even weeks after Ike slammed Southeast Texas on Sept. 13, and several obstetrical practices associated with The Woman's Hospital of Texas say they're expecting a mini-baby boom.

Dr. Rakhi Dimino, an obstetrician/gynecologist with Houston Women's Care Associates, spent several days after Ike at home with her husband with no electricity and is set to give birth to her first child June 10. She told the Houston Chronicle she was doing "what everybody else in Houston was doing."

"You can only do so much when there's no television, nothing open and there's nowhere to go," said Dimino, 33.

Dr. John Irwin, the chief of surgery service at Woman's Hospital who routinely delivers 15 to 20 babies a month, said he has 26 deliveries scheduled in June.

"There's about a 25 percent increase in the number of deliveries coming up in mid-June to mid-July," he said.

His colleagues at Obstetrical and Gynecological Associates, the 35-physician practice where he is president, have seen a similar increase.

Dr. Ferdinand Plavidal, chief of obstetrics at Woman's, delivered nine babies last July. He has 20 scheduled this July. Most of those women conceived in October, said Carol Mello, a nurse in Plavidal's practice.

Woman's Hospital, which had more than 9,000 births in 2008 and expects to break that record this year, is expecting to have at least 100 more births this summer.

"We are well-prepared for it," said hospital CEO Linda Russell. "We have just opened up a new wing with 92 additional beds.

But other Houston birthing centers, including The Methodist Hospital and the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston -- which ranks among the top 10 hospitals in births statewide -- aren't ready to predict an Ike baby boom.

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