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Regional & National

Fewer parents choosing 'Katrina' as baby name after 2005 hurricane

May 11th, 2007 10:42 pm by Associated Press



WASHINGTON - As baby names go, Katrina isn't in vogue these days. But she hasn't disappeared either.


From its peak in the 1980s - when it regularly ranked among the 100 most popular names that parents chose for their daughters - it had gradually slumped to 247th by 2005, even before Hurricane Katrina smashed the Gulf Coast in late summer of that year.


The name's association with the catastrophe has now knocked it out of consideration for most parents, sinking its popularity to the lowest ebb since the 1950s.


Only about 850 baby girls in the United States were named Katrina last year, according to new data released Friday by the Social Security Administration, dropping it more than 100 slots on the popularity list. At a rank of 382nd, it now sits just below Brenna.


Ironically, the two states that suffered most of Katrina's wrath bucked the trend, if only in small numbers. In Louisiana, the number of babies named Katrina jumped from eight in the 12 months before the storm to 15 in the 12 months after, according to state health officials. In Mississippi, seven babies were given the name from 2004 until the storm hit in August 2005, according to state data. The number climbed to 24 from September 2005 through the end of 2006.


Overall, the country's most popular names list hasn't changed much since 2005. Emily and Jacob remain atop the list. Emily has been the top girls' name since 1996; Jacob for boys since 1999.


The national trend surprised Cleveland Evans, a psychology professor and names expert at Bellevue University in Nebraska. But he said Katrina isn't likely to go extinct.


"This is not going to be a name like Adolf that's going to disappear and be unusable ever again," he said, referring to that name's association with Adolf Hitler.


Scarlett and Stephen Billis, a Los Angeles-area couple, named their daughter Katrina last May.


Scarlett said the couple was reluctant to use the name less than a year after the hurricane, but her husband had always liked it as a variation of Katherine, a family name. Also, their family is Greek and the name is close to the popular Greek name Katerina.


"People ask if we named her after the hurricane," Billis said. "We didn't pick it because of that and we were actually hesitant ... but we do joke that our house looks like a hurricane hit."


The Social Security Administration's rankings, released each year just before Mother's Day, are based on some 4.2 million Social Security card applications from 2006.


Social Security began compiling the name lists in 1997. The agency offers lists of baby names for each year since 1880 on its Web site: http://www.socialsecurity.gov.


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