Is some mid-20th century movie star thing going on with girl baby names in Pittsburgh?
Olivia, Sophia, Mia and Ava are the four most popular names for female newborns based on the 3,500 babies born through November in West Penn and Forbes Regional hospitals, according to a top 10 list released by the Allegheny Health Network.
For boys, it's harder to spot a theme: Jackson tops the list of most popular names for baby boys, followed by Landon, Mason, Noah and Liam, none of whom were ever big male movie stars 50 years ago.
Maybe it's about pleasing the grandparents or even the great-grandparents: while today's new mothers may have never heard of Olivia de Havilland, Sophia Loren, Mia Farrow and Ava Gardner, surely their forebears did, so long, long ago.
Then again, maybe Olivia Newton-John -- whose own pop star fame began building in 1971, along with a rise in the popularity of her name -- has finally peaked.
Maybe this is all mindless speculation, since the fifth-most popular girls' name on the list is Addison, a name that fits squarely into what one baby naming book called the "Androgynous Boardroom" category.
"Creativity is key for today's parents," said Stephanie Waite, a spokeswoman for the health care system. "Hundreds of the names had no duplicate, and many parents put their own stamp on names by using alternate spellings."
That's the case at Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC as well, said Michelle Corna, director of the hospital's mother-baby unit, noting that one popular name is Nevaeh, which is heaven spelled backward.
The Social Security Administration's official 2012 list (its 2013 version won't be published until next year) is only slightly different -- Jacob sits at the top for boys, rather than Jackson. Ms. Corna noted that the name also comes in a multitude of spellings: Jaxon, Jacksen, Jacksan.
While it's entirely possible that Olivia or Mia's mom is named Ashley, that name has dropped like a stone in popularity lists, even as other monikers are surfacing under the radar, including some that are really unique, added Ms. Corna: Ajax and Oranges, for example. Quinn seems to be gaining momentum for females as well.
As long as we're talking about momentum, Mia and Gianna showed the biggest surge in popularity from 2012, Ms. Waite said.
Overall, we are mostly in line with national trends: Pittsburgh baby girl names matched those in a national survey by Babycenter.com, with Sophia, Emma and Olivia at the top.
The same was true for boys names -- Babycenter's top three boys' names nationally were Jackson, Aiden and Liam, strongly correlating to the WPAHS list, but "Landon and Jace ... came out of nowhere to claim spots on the top 10, and the time-honored Joseph saw a surprising boost in popularity," Ms. Waite said.
Through November 2013, the most popular names among the 3,500 babies born at West Penn Hospital and Forbes Regional Hospital are:
10. Emma/Madeleine (tie)
The Social Security Administration list of 2012 popular baby names: www.ssa.gov/OACT/babynames/
Mackenzie Carpenter, firstname.lastname@example.org. 412-263-1949 or on Twitter @MackenziePG.