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Expectant mothers from Shenzhen would face a sharp increase in costs if they want to give birth in Hong Kong, with the hospital bills ranging from 55,000 yuan (US$8,460) to 150,000 yuan.

Hong Kong last week banned public hospitals from admitting pregnant women from the mainland this year, leading to a thriving business for private hospitals in the territory, according to Chinese-language media.

The obstetrics departments at Hong Kong private hospitals were running short of wards, according to sources at agencies for Hong Kong maternity services in Shenzhen.

Women who were due to deliver before October could not reserve an economy ward at private hospitals, which charge 55,000 yuan for a natural labor and 63,800 yuan for a cesarean birth, according to a Hong Kong domestic service company in Huaqiangbei. Only VIP packages costing between 130,000 yuan and 150,000 yuan were available before September, the Daily Sunshine reported yesterday.

There had been an increase in the number of mainland women reserving beds at Hong Kong private hospitals for delivery since late March, said a woman with a Hong Kong health care management company, who was identified only as Li.

Most mainland women who chose to deliver their babies in Hong Kong were looking to escape the mainland one-child policy, she said.

Meanwhile, the mainland wives of Hong Kong residents preferred to give birth in Hong Kong to give their babies Hong Kong identity, despite the high cost, the paper said.

Shenzhen health authority said Hong Kong delivery ban, which took effect Friday, would not affect the city obstetrics resources since women who wanted to give birth in Hong Kong could afford to pay and would not be affected by the ban.

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