Baby boom in Emerald

THE stork has certainly been busy in Emerald with the number of babies delivered at Emerald Hospital expected to almost double this year.

The cute little bundles of joy have been arriving at an impressive rate, with 48 women booked in for delivery during April, compared to 31 babies born in the same month last year.

There were about 277 babies born at Emerald Hospital last year and there is expected to be well over 400 this year.

Emerald Hospital's district director of nursing Lyn Zeller said it was not known whether the increase was the result of the federal government's $3000 maternity payment or a general population increase on the Central Highlands.

"The population in Emerald itself is between 11,500 and 12,000 and in all of Emerald Shire, it's about 14,500 - mainly due to the influx of families as a result of mining expansion,'' she said.

"But with all the extra babies checking in, population growth seems to be blossoming right now.''

Although there are no figures documenting the actual current increase, an Emerald Shire Council discussion paper has conservatively estimated that the shire's population will increase by 2332 people over the next five years.

The paper said anecdotal evidence suggested the majority of the population in the shire was likely to be under the age of 49 and consisting of singles and family groups.



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