By Catherine E. Shoichet, CNN

Remember that pandemic baby boom some thought we’d see about nine months after coronavirus lockdowns swept across the US? Well, as experts predicted, so far it seems to be shaping up to be more of a baby bust. New data released by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics on Wednesday doesn’t paint the full picture, but it gives us a glimpse of what’s going on. The birth rate in the United States fell in the last quarter of 2020, decreasing significantly — more than 6% — from the same time period the previous year. That’s notable because the data includes December 2020, the first month when most babies born would have been conceived after the start of the pandemic. A more detailed breakdown of government birth data also shows the largest decline in births occurred in December.”We’ve been conjecturing about the impact of Covid on births for quite some time. These most recent CDC data provide our best opportunity to date to document what actually happened,” says Phillip Levine, a professor of economics at Wellesley College.The government reports released Wednesday don’t provide any analysis on how Covid-19 is shaping these numbers. But Levine and other experts say there’s little doubt it’s playing a role — and that these numbers point to some ways the pandemic could shape our society for years to come.

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