Empty Maternity Wards Imperil a Dwindling Germany

Empty Maternity Wards Imperil a Dwindling Germany
The New York Times
November 18, 2004
By MARK LANDLER

FRANKFURT, Nov. 17 – It is a typical night in the maternity ward of this citys second biggest hospital and the loneliest place is the nursery. Empty baby beds are lined up against a wall like rental cars in an airport parking lot. A colorful mobile hangs hopefully over the still room.

With more than 1,000 beds, a team of doctors and midwives but only a few births a day, the Frankfurt-Höchst hospital has an abundance of everything except babies.

Germanys falling birthrate, like that in much of Western Europe, is entering its second generation. This means not only that mothers continue to have one or at most two children – too few to reproduce the population – but also that the number of potential mothers has dwindled.

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