3 Russian Newborns Vie for 7 Billionth Baby Title
Published: November 2, 2011 (Issue # 1681)
BULLIT MARQUEZ / AP
Danica Camacho, a contender for the 7 billionth birth, being held by her mother at a hospital Monday in Manila, Philippines.
MOSCOW — The global population officially topped 7 billion on Monday, and a worldwide fight immediately erupted over which lucky baby was the first to reach the milestone — with three infants from the distant corners of Russia vying for the crown.
The first recorded Russian birth came at 12:19 a.m. in the Far Eastern city of Petropavlosk-Kamchatsky when a 3.6-kilogram boy named Alexander came into the world, regional officials reported.
While they quickly claimed him as the record-setting baby, doctors in the Kaliningrad cried foul — saying a 3.6-kilogram boy named Pyotr Nikolayev born there at 12:02 a.m. was the real deal, despite the time difference, according to Interfax.
“He was born on this day, and that is a great honor,” said the boy’s mother, Yelena Nikolayeva, as she held up a certificate for photographers naming her son as the world’s 7 billionth resident. “I do not know what opportunities it will give our child.”
Anastasia and Roman Yegurnovykh came forward hours later in St. Petersburg to say their child — a 2.8-kilogram girl named Nelli who was born at 12:05 a.m. in hospital No. 9, was the true record-breaking baby, RIA-Novosti reported.
That’s not even taking into account babies in the Philippines and India — where at least six babies were born between 12 a.m. and 8 a.m. — who also laid claim to the title.
Kamchatka Governor Vladimir Ilyukhin pointed to geography as the only way to settle the matter — at least in Russia.
“Of course, there are many contenders for the title of the 7 billionth baby on the planet. But our country is known for starting in Kamchatka. Therefore, we believe that this child was the 7 billionth child and was born in Kamchatka, Russia,” he said in a statement on the regional government’s web site.
Experts said it was probably impossible to ever truly settle the question — given that 500,000 babies are born worldwide every single day.
A leading Russian demographer said he found the whole argument somewhat silly, given the country’s rapidly declining birthrate.
“I think it is far more likely that the child was born in either Africa or Asia than here,” Anatoly Vishnevsky, director of the Institute of Demography of the State University, told The St. Petersburg Times by phone. “The fact is the birthrate here is declining fast, while every minute a child is born in other parts of the world.”
The United Nations had declared Oct. 31 as the landmark day that the Earth’s population would eclipse the 7 billion person mark, but was less inclined to declare which baby crossed the finish line first.
“In Russia, we will issue three certificates, and a final decision will perhaps be made at UN headquarters,” Alexander Mordovin of the Russian office of the UN Population Fund told RIA-Novosti. “If the 7 billionth person is not officially chosen, we will assume that all of these children will hold the title.”
Still, the honor does carry some value. For her trouble, Marina Bogdanova, the 22-year-old mother of the boy born in Petropavlosk-Kamchatsky, was given a free two-room apartment by the regional government.
“Seven billion is a number we should think about deeply,” Dr. Eric Tayag of the Philippines Department of Health told The Associated Press following the birth of Danica May Camacho in a Manila hospital, whose arrival was among those in the running for the milestone.
“We should really focus on the question of whether there will be food, clean water, shelter, education and a decent life for every child,” he said. “If the answer is ‘no,’ it would be better for people to look at easing this population explosion.”