Happiness Sparked Hormone Rush Germany's World Cup Baby Boom

Last summer's mix of sun, beer and excitement during the football World Cup appears to have produced a massive hormone rush in German bedrooms, gardens and back alleys. Nine months on, birth clinics across the country that hosted the tournament are reporting a much-needed baby boom.

The football World Cup from June 9 to July 9 last year appears to have sparked a baby boom in the host country Germany, where hospitals are reporting a marked rise in imminent births nine months after the tournament, remembered here as a month-long fairy-tale  of sunshine, parties and soccer success.

The head of the largest birth clinic in the city of Kassel, Rolf Kliche, estimates that births at his hospital will be up by 10 to 15 percent, which he described as a "minor sensation" given the usually stable birth statistics.

Kliche said he wasn't surprised because happiness tends to release hormones and makes it easier to get pregnant. "With many people the excitement they felt during the matches seems to have lasted and been employed in other ways after the final whistle," he told Hessicher Rundfunk radio.

Other hospitals around Germany are reporting increased bookings for ante-natal classes although many are predicting the increase will be smaller than 15 percent.

Pia Schmidt from Verna had been trying to get pregnant for two years and reckons that Germany's 1-0 victory over Poland, a nail-biting encounter decided in injury time, cracked it. "I can remember it exactly," Pia, 27, told Hessischer Rundfunk. "We had a barbecue, had invited friends and everyone was in a good mood." Her husband Sascha said: "And when Germany won, my wife and I went on celebrating after the game."

Their daughter Farina was born five weeks early on February 11 and has been celebrated as Germany's first World Cup baby. The others are due to follow from the end of February onwards.

It's good news for Germany, whose birth rate  at 1.36 children per woman is below the European Union average of 1.52.

In glorious sunshine, millions of Germans and visiting fans celebrated the World Cup in stadiums, public viewing areas, bars and in their homes. The whole nation was enthralled  by what became a summer party that lasted four weeks.

Many of the World Cup babies -- hopefully just the boys -- are likely to be named after the soccer heroes of the German national team who did much better than expected and got as far as the semi-final in which they were beaten by Italy, who ended up winning the World Cup.

Expect a lot of babies named Bastian, after midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger, Jens after goalkeeper Jens Lehmann or Lukas after striker Lukas Podolski.

It remains to be seen whether Germany will get another baby boom in nine months' time after it won the handball World Cup earlier this month.

dpa/hessicher rundfunk/cro