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November 27, 2019

U.S. birth rate at lowest level in more than 30 years, CDC says

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The U.S. birth rate continued to decline in 2018, sinking to its lowest level in more than 30 years, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

There were 3.79 million births in 2018, according to figures released Wednesday by the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics. That's a 2% decline from 2017. 

The data includes birth certificates registered in all 50 states and Washington, D.C.

The total fertility rate, the hypothetical number of children a woman might have in her childbearing years, was only 1,729.5 births per 1,000 women between ages 15 to 44 in 2018. But to properly reproduce the U.S. population, there needs to be 2,100 births per 1,000 women, according to the CDC.

The CDC attributed to the drop off to women waiting until later in life to have children. Teen births also are down. 

Birth rates were slightly higher in women ages 35 to 44 than in women in their 20s and early 30s, according to the report. More women over 50 also are giving birth. The age group recorded 959 births in 2018 compared to 840 in 2017. 

Additionally, the twin birth rate fell 2% from 2017.

Among other trends, fewer new moms were smokers, NBC News reported. And there were slightly fewer cesarean sections performed in 2018. 

Still, the rate of preterm births continued to rise, particularly among black and Hispanic women. Overall preterm birth rates increased from 9.93% of all births in 2017 to 10.02% of all births in 2018. Among black women, the rates were 13.93% in 2017 and 14.13% in 2018. Among Hispanic women, the rates were 9.62% in 2017 and 9.73% in 2018. 

In Pennsylvania, the general fertility rate declined, while it rose in New Jersey. New York and New Jersey were the only two states to that recorded an increase.

Read the full CDC report here

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