By Dave Warner
PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - When Superstorm Sandy doused the lights along coastal New Jersey nine months ago, it laid the groundwork for a summertime baby boom that has hospitals jumping.
"It was a crazy time," said Dr. Steven Morgan, who practices obstetrics and gynecology at Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune. "A lot of people were home, a lot of people didn't have TV, and obviously a lot of reproduction was happening."
Monmouth Medical Center in Long Branch is on track to deliver about 500 babies this month, up from 371 delivered at the same time last year, said Dr. Robert Graebe, who heads the hospital's obstetrics and gynecology department.
Jersey Shore University Medical Center expects about 200 births this month, up from 160 in July 2012.
Both hospitals said they were bringing in extra staff to cope with the baby boom.
Sandy slammed into the area on October 29, causing more than 200 deaths and $50 billion in damage along the East Coast.
Many Jersey communities were without power for long periods of time.
"There is something about that heightened arousal, that sense of emergency and danger that does seem to cause people to form this physical connection, to kind of compensate in some way," said Dr. Christine Tintorer, a psychiatrist at Monmouth Medical.
"It almost sounds like psychobabble kind of stuff, but I think it does tap into this kind of primitive instinct, like to preserve the species."
(Editing by Scott Malone, Toni Reinhold)