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China's Populous Guangdong Sees Baby Boom

South China's Guangdong Province reported 1 million newborns in the first nine months of the year, and the total was expected to exceed 1.2 million by the end of December.

With more than 100 million residents, Guangdong is the country's most populous province, and the latest additions will bring major challenges for authorities, according to a China Daily report on Thursday.

"There are several reasons for the increased number of births," Zhang Feng, director of the provincial population and family planning committee, said.

In 2005, Guangdong entered a baby boom, which could last for 10 years.The floating population has continued to grow, and about 250,000 newborns - 70,000 more than last year - have come from that sector of the community, he said.

A further 30,000 babies were born to couples made up of only-children, which since 2002 have been allowed to have two children.

The desire to have a child in the year of the Beijing Olympics had probably also contributed to the baby boom, Zhang said.

As well as the high number of births, this year has also seen a worrying increase in the incidence of congenital mental disorders, Zhang said.

Of all the infants born in Guangdong this year, between 6 and 7 percent had some form of mental handicap, far above the national average of 4 to 6 percent.

While the ratio of male to female babies born in the province is now 1.15:1 - down from 1.3:1 in 2000 - there is still a massive gender imbalance, Zhang said.

"Unless the government does something about it, by 2020, 4.6 million men will have no choice but to live as bachelors," he added.

Zheng Zhizhen, a demographer with the Guangdong Academy of Social Sciences, said, "If population growth is not contained, a lot of social problems will emerge, especially with regard to the social security system.

(Xinhua News Agency October 16, 2008)

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