While Vt. birthrate drops, Porter numbers remain consistent

MIDDLEBURY — While Vermont’s population continues to get grayer, Porter Hospital’s Birthing Center is attracting a consistent, healthy flow of expectant parents — a clientele that is also coming from outside Addison County.
Statistics covering the past five years show annual births at the Middlebury hospital hovering around the 300 mark. Specifically, number of babies born at the Birthing Center were as follows:
•  288 in 2007.
•  340 in 2008.
•  299 in 2009.
•  304 in 2010.
•  318 in 2011.
School enrollment has been declining in the county, but Porter thus far has not seen a precipitous drop in the birth rate. Kathleen Hoxsie, nurse manager of Porter’s Birthing Center, credits the consistent customer flow to the center upgrades in 2007, but above all, to the reputation of its staff of veteran nurses and physicians. This, she said, has drawn expectant parents from throughout a wide region.
“We have seen more people coming here from different areas, like Rutland and Poultney,” Hoxsie noted.
Hoxsie said the Birthing Center’s staff includes a combined total of eight nurses who assist four physicians and three midwives. Clients, she said, are very pleased with the service they receive.
“We offer anything you’re looking for,” Hoxsie said. “It is low-key, low-intervention and great care.”
Meanwhile, as Porter’s Birthing Center has remained busy, births have been on the decline in the Green Mountain State as a whole.
Vermont had a population of 315,098 in 1857, a year in which the state recorded 6,538 births, according to data provided by the Vermont Department of Health. In 2008 (the most recent year with complete figures) the state had 621,270 residents who produced just 6,341 babies, almost 200 fewer newborns than in 1857 even though overall population had nearly doubled.
The highest recorded birth total in Vermont, according to state statistics, was 1960, when 9,279 newborns were produced from a total population of 389,881.
Records show the number of births in Vermont has decreased fairly steadily since 1990 when 8,292 children were born. Annual births declined to 6,783 by 1995 and have yet to again exceed 7,000.
A vital statistics summary spanning 1857 to 2008 shows some other interesting trends in Vermont’s birth, deaths and other demographic trends.
•  The high-water mark for marriages in Vermont was 6,271 in the year 2000. There were 4,937 marriages in 2008 — the lowest total since 1975.
•  There were 1,704 civil unions forged in Vermont in 2000, the year the Legislature passed the law. The number of civil unions declined to 268 — the lowest number ever — in 2008. The state currently allows same-sex marriage.
•  There were 2,259 recorded divorces in the Green Mountain State in 2008. The high-water mark for divorces was 2002, with 2,653.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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