Birth rates hold steady in counties

By Michael Davis and Zach Porter

It's not just residents moving to Clayton and Henry counties that contribute to the burgeoning populations. Both counties are on track to either match or exceed the number of babies born last year.

In Henry County, there were 1,659 birth certificates filed as of Nov. 1. That compares to 1,998 in 2003 and 1,859 in 2002.

In Clayton County, there were 4,304 birth certificates filed as of Friday. That compares to 5,131 in 2003 and 4,900 in 2002, according to Cathy Roark, registrar of Clayton County Vital Records Division of Probate Court.

Roark said there's still time remaining in 2004 for the number to equal or surpass last year's births.

According to the latest U.S. Census figures, Clayton County had 259,736 residents in 2003 and is adding residents at a rate of about 9.8 percent every three years. In the 2000 census, a total of 8.3 percent of the county was under the age of five.

In neighboring Henry County, there was an estimated 2003 population of 150,003. It added new residents at a whopping 25.7 percent rate in the three-year period leading up to that estimate. In the 2000 census, 8.1 percent of the county was under the age of five.

Lori Jarrett recently contributed to that growing number. She is recovering this week after giving birth at Henry Medical Center to her second child, a son named Tristan.

But the stay-at-home mom, whose husband is a contractor for a major communications company, said she may not be finished expanding her family and contributing to the population growth.

"I have always thought that I would want to have three," she said.

Clayton County resident Wendi Pryor recently gave birth to daughter Dekhi Pryor, her seventh child, at Southern Regional Medical Center. Pryor, who has previously given birth to twins, said that although Dekhi was the easiest delivery she has had so far, "this is the last one. I think seven children is a big family size, it's good enough."

And while the population continues to grow, there is always the task of selecting a name to put on those birth certificates.

The most popular name for a boy in 2004 is Michael and for a girl Kaitlyn, according to the Internet site Baby Gift City.com.

Michael is Hebrew for Godly and Kaitlin is Celtic for little darling, according to the site. There are no local records kept of baby names.

The other top names for this year for boys are Matthew, Nicholas, Andrew, Christopher, Brandon, Thomas, Robert, James and Justin.

The other top names for girls are Sarah, Natalie, Emily, Amanda, Jennifer, Michelle, Amy and Samantha.