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'Baby Boom' In Southern Tajikistan Expected To End

The number of births decreased drastically after the country's civil war
QURGHON-TEPPA, Tajikistan (RFE/RL) -- A health official says a multiyear baby boom in southern Tajikistan is expected to end as the children of the Tajik civil war come of age, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.

Sodiq Doliev, an official in the Health Ministry in the southern Khatlon Province, told RFE/RL that in the first six months of 2009 some 31,000 babies were born in the province, the highest rate of the last several years of the baby boom. He added that most of the babies are the first children of their parents and most of the mothers are 22-years old or younger.

Raihona Mirzoeva, the chief of the Reproductive Health and Family Planning Center, said that the baby boom began at the beginning of the 1990s when the Soviet Union collapsed but that during the 1992-1997 Tajik civil war the number of births decreased greatly, with tens of thousands of people killed and more than 1.2 million Tajiks being displaced.

The children born during those five years will soon be of child-bearing age and since there are less of them, there will be fewer babies born and the "boom" will be over.

Mirzoeva added that nearly every fifth child in Khatlon Province is born at home, which she said is dangerous.

She said her center encourages future mothers not only to give birth in hospitals but also to conduct family planning. She said that in the first six months of 2009 seven mothers had died giving birth at home.