Chechnya tops birth rate in Russian Federation

If Russia had a competition for the highest birth rate in its regions, the 2006 winner would be the Chechen Republic. So far this year it's welcomed 25,000 newborn citizens into this world.

The the central maternity clinic in Grozny has a 100% occupancy rate. And all current newborns are fit and healthy.

“The birth rate in Chechnya is 6 to 7 times higher than in the rest of the country. And if compared to the rest of Russia's southern regions, up to 3 times more babies are born in our republic,” Elza Lichiyeva, gynaecologist from Grozny points out.

There is one small negative aspect to this baby boom – 3 out of 10 babies are born prematurely.

Doctors put this down to poor environment, malnutrition and medical ignorance among women about pregnancy. 

These factors prove no deterrent, in a society where traditionally women to have many children.

“Two or three children for a Chechen woman are not enough. Usually it's four, five, six or even ten babies, sometimes more than ten,” a Chechen woman in the central maternity clinic in Grozny claims.

The Batayev family have to have dinner in two shifts. The eldest daughter Dinara takes care of some of three-week-old Esmina's needs. Four other children help their parents in other household chores.

“It would be easier to have just one child. I would be able to give it everything, but that would only spoil it. It would have no feeling of fellowship or responsibility,” Mrs Batayeva thinks.

Experts say the baby boom is only just beginning. Hundreds of displaced families are now returning to Chechnya, many of them young couples no doubt planning additions to the family.