CDC: Birth Rates in the US Have Reached an All-Time Low

It’s a trend we keep on seeing.
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By Stephanie Grassullo, Associate Editor
Published August 2, 2019
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Image: Mael Balland

The US fertility rate has reached a new record low, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics. Birth rates have been consistently dropping over the course of the last few years, but a recent report says it has now reached a new all-time low.

According to the data, the general fertility rate for the US has declined 2 percent in 2018 to 59.1 per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44 from 60.3 in 2017. The results shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. Back in January, the CDC said there aren’t enough babies being born in the US to maintain a stable population. And in May, the agency published a report saying birth rates haven’t been this low in more than three decades.

The most recent report shares findings from 2018 birth certificate data from the National Vital Statistics System’s Natality Data File, with a close look at births among white, black and Hispanic women in 2018. Fertility rates declined 2 percent for white and black women and 3 percent for Hispanic women between 2017 and 2018. Additionally, teen birth rates fell 7 percent from 2017 to 2018.

Although it shows trends in birth rates, it’s hard to prove why we’re seeing these patterns. There are a ton of potential reasons for the steady decline in birth rates. For instance, a survey from last year cites medical issues and financial reasons as a couple of factors weighing in on the decision over whether or not partners have one or more kids.

Another trend researchers see is an increase in the number of preterm births, where the it has gone from from 9.93 percent of births in 2017 to 10.02 percent in 2018; and early-term births rising from 26 percent in 2017 to 26.53 percent in 2018. Additionally, full-term births were down from 57.49 percent in 2017 to 57.24 percent in 2018, and post-term births declined from 6.58 percent to 6.2 percent. The study’s authors think this pattern may be due to the rise in births among women in their 30s.

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