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Grand Forks sees record births with 1,655 babies

Milton James, Amelia, Chandler Elizabeth, Christelle Angel Marie and Eliza Ann have only been here a week, but their New Year's Eve arrivals mean they have already contributed to something -- a record year for births in Grand Forks.

The newborns are among the 1,655 babies born at Altru Health System's Family Birthing Center in 2012, a record for Altru that beats the old one of 1,576, set in 2010.

"We've been busier and busier," said Sherry Messelt, a patient care coordinator for Altru since 1994.

The annual total 10 years ago was 1,342 in 2002, but it has been more than 1,500 since at least 2008, according to Messelt.

Why more babies were being born last year is a question with a few theories, but "nothing concrete, just speculation," she said.

Facilities in small towns have fewer deliveries, bringing more births to Grand Forks, Messelt said. The economy is good, too, which is often linked to higher birth rates. People seem to be having bigger families lately, too, she said.

The fact that last winter produced no big blizzards in Grand Forks seems to weaken a popular theory linking bad weather to birthrates.

The summer months seem to bring the most babies, according to Messelt. National statistics show September having the most births, with June, July and August being the next most common months, according to the website

According to the same website, the most popular baby names in 2012 were Sophia for girls and Aiden for boys.

Among the Dec. 31 babies named on Altru's website, only Amelia's name was in the top 100, at No. 20.

But things could change, and popular tastes could swing back to 1913, when Mary and John topped the list.

Christopher Bjorke

Christopher Bjorke is the content editor for the Grand Forks Herald. He first worked for the Herald in 1997 and most recently since 2011. His jobs at the Herald have included covering local government, state politics, business and economics, and the health care industry. 

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