Could Greater Victoria experience a baby boom in nine months following this recent run of winter weather and power outages? Don’t count on it. (Black Press File)

Will winter weather and power outages lead to a Vancouver Island baby boom?

Anecdotal evidence suggests yes, research says no

First things first. People do not necessarily get busier – if you get the drift – when extreme events like winter storms keep them inside and bring down the lights.

Nine months after an ice storm had caused catastrophic damage across Quebec and other parts of North America in early 1998, demographers scoffed at the notion that this extreme weather event had any significant bearing on live birth rates in the province.

RELATED: Snow delays in Greater Victoria: traffic, buses, flights impacted

After the 1998 storm, a demographer with Quebec’s statistics bureau told local media that birth rates increasing after these types of events are a myth.

But at least one hospital in the Montreal area recorded an uptick in births in October (nine months after the storm), in what was usually a slow month for births.

RELATED: Another snow day for Greater Victoria students

Similar stories have also emerged from the Greater Toronto Area, where hospitals reported a baby bump in September 2014 — nine months after an ice storm had hit that city.

Notwithstanding this anecdotal evidence, extreme weather events such as Quebec’s ice storm of 1998 can leave behind a permanent genetic legacy among the children born at the time.

Researchers at Douglas Mental Health University Institute and McGill University found that the level of objective hardships experienced by pregnant women at the time left behind a distinct imprint on their genes.

RELATED: Power out at Victoria International Airport

While the health impact on these children is less clear, according to the study, changes in genes regulating immunity and sugar metabolism may put them at a greater risk to develop asthma, diabetes or obesity.

These findings are among a treasure trove of findings that the Quebec ice storm of 1998 has yielded. Researchers working on Project Ice Storm started to study the effects of stress on pregnant women, their pregnancies, and their unborn children soon after the January 1998 had plunged more than 3 million Quebecers into darkness for as long as 45 days, according to McGill.

RELATED: Snow shovels, salt flying off the shelves in Victoria

Overall, the team has been following a group of about 150 families, in which the mother was pregnant during the ice storm or became pregnant shortly after, to observe the immediate effects of different levels and types of stress on unborn children.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Greater Victoria gas stations could push to 167.9 cents a litre this week

Analyst says high prices are due to supply and demand

Saanich Police salutes fallen officer

Const. Robert Kirby was killed in the line of duty on April 24, 1960

How worried should we be about Vancouver Island bees?

One bee species hasn’t been seen since 1990

Rickter Scale: The view through a smoky mirror

Remembering life in the glory days of smoking

VIDEO: Driver in bizarre hit-and-run at car dealership in Campbell River turns herself in

Police believe alcohol was a factor in incident causing estimated $15,000 in damages

WATCH: Cougar saunters through Metchosin yard

Spring cougar sighting caught on camera

Esquimalt-based HMCS Regina makes third drug bust in two weeks

Ship seized hashish and heroin in Indian Ocean

Temporary CCTV cameras added around downtown Victoria

Cameras go up Saturday for big Sunday events

Victoria street corner could house public berry patch

The James Bay Neighborhood Association is hoping to offer berries locals

Busy day for passengers on BC Ferries

First two sailings from Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay full Thursday morning

Stuck in the muck in a stolen truck

Oceanside RCMP nab suspect after call from Errington logging contractor

Canadian Coast Guard breaks ground on permanent search and rescue station in Victoria

Victoria-based SAR will do all rescues in local harbour and parts of the Strait of Juan de Fuca

Victoria council looks to self-impose carbon tax on staff airfare

A new carbon pricing fee would put additional funds into the city’s Climate Action Reserve

University mourns student who died in B.C. canoeing accident

Andrew Milner, 19, was in his second year with the University of Calgary’s basketball program

Most Read