A total of more than 17.5 million babies are expected to be born by the end of the year, and the number is roughly consistent with the official prediction after the two-child policy was implemented at the beginning of the year, said a Chinese health official at a population and development conference in Beijing on Saturday.
The official said the prediction for 2016 was based on national statistics on birth control, pregnancies and childbirths.
Wang Peian, Deputy Director of the National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC), said that since 2010, China's birth rates have been fluctuating between 1.54 to 1.64 births per thousand people per year. The fertility rate is predicted to be around 1.8 during the period of the 13th Five-Year Plan, from 2016 to 2020.
The official's remark has marked the first time the NHFPC has publicly commented on the result of the two-child policy since it entered into effect at the beginning of this year.
China updated its Population and Family Planning Law last year and allowed all married couples to have two children under the new policy.
Another health official said it is difficult to accurately collect such data, as couples are not required to obtain official approval before having a second child.
A newly published research showed that in 2015, China's birth rate was only 1.047. Many population experts have said it was lower than expected.
Before this year, Chinese couples were allowed to have only one child under the now abolished one-child policy, which had been in place since the beginning of the 1980s.