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Thanks to Covid lockdowns, number of pregnancies set to rise across India and the world

Virtual private network provider NordVPN has found that the number of pregnancy tracking app downloads increased in January-September 2020 as against the same period in 2019.

Taran Deol
Representational image of a pregnant woman | Image: Arindam Mukherjee | ThePrint

New Delhi: As the Covid-19 pandemic spread across the globe, countries imposed lockdowns of different magnitude to arrest its spread. But still, over 44.5 million cases have been registered worldwide, and 1.17 million people have died, as of Thursday evening.

Since people were restricted to their homes and not allowed to move out, a phenomenon called “lockdown-imposed intimacy” has been observed in some places such as India. This has resulted in a rise in pregnancies in the country, according to a report by NordVPN, which calls itself the world’s most advanced virtual private network service provider.

“Obviously, people got accustomed to the pandemic and felt confident enough to start a bigger family,” said Ruby Gonzalez, NordVPN’s head of communications.


Also read: Pregnancy in a pandemic — lockdown triggers anxiety, doctors advise patience and caution


Rising global trend

The pregnancies figure for India was calculated on the basis of the number of pregnancy tracking apps installed. The report said India saw its first surge in downloads in March (32 per cent), followed by another in April (15 per cent).

“The number of tracker downloads went up again by 208 per cent in September,” the NordVPN report noted, adding that countries India and South Korea were more interested in pregnancy trackers in September because they “recovered quickly after the first (Covid) wave”.

The global trend for pregnancies was also on the up, with countries like Turkey, Lithuania, Barbados, Bulgaria, El Salvador and Costa Rica making it to the top 10 in terms of pregnancy app downloads in January-September 2020 as against the corresponding 2019 figure.

Brazil is a surprise entry at No.5, given that it was one of the worst Covid-hit countries in the world, with over 1,58,000 reportedly dying due to the pandemic.

However, there were notable exceptions to the overall rising trend. In the US, for example, the installation of pregnancy apps dropped to a record low — 40 per cent below the corresponding figure for 2019. Other countries with a low number of pregnancy app downloads were China, the US, Switzerland, Vietnam, Sweden and Hungary.

Warning to users

The NordVPN report warned that in an attempt to earn money, some free-of-cost pregnancy tracking apps share “users’ information with third parties for advertising purposes”. Other apps provide “user data to researchers, who use it to study complex health conditions”.

“Women are advised to be very careful when setting app privacy controls. It’s recommended to deny the app access to contacts, photos, and location. Women should carefully check whom the app is sharing their data with,” said Daniel Markuson, a digital privacy expert at NordVPN.

“And, last but not least, use strong passwords and do not post pictures of yourself and your unborn child,” he advised.


Also read: Covid-positive pregnant women could experience symptoms for months, study says


 

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