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Grand Forks hospital sets birth record

Altru Hospital delivered a record number of babies last year, 1,571, up 3.5 percent from 2007, hospital officials said Monday.

The figure includes 21 sets of twins and two sets of triplets.

No doubt part of the increase comes from fewer hospitals in North Dakota delivering babies.

Mercy Hospital in Valley City is quitting the baby delivery business this month because it costs too much to deliver only a few dozen a year, hospital officials said several months ago.

Only 10 of the state's 43 licensed hospitals do deliver babies, according to the North Dakota Health Care Association.

A physician at Mercy Hospital said recently that the number of births at Mercy went from more than 100 a decade ago to 68 in 2007, and the hospital lost about $300,000 offering the service with only about one birth a week.

Altru officials tout its Family Birthing Center as "the region's most technologically advanced birth center," that offers a High-Risk Maternal Transport Team 24 hours a day.

Trinity Hospital in Minot reported an increase in births last year of 10 percent, up to 1,421 deliveries.

The number of births in the state has increased each year for several years, after declining annually for about 30 years.

In the year ending July 1, the state saw 9,014 births, helping the state mark a net gain of 3,577 in population, or less than 1 percent, according to state demographic experts.