The Baby Blip: America’s Birth Rate Is Up for the First Time Since 2014

After years of declining birth rates, the 2021 increase marks a possible change in attitudes.
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By Wyndi Kappes, Assistant Editor
Published May 25, 2022
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Image: Sopotnicki/Shutterstock

For the first time in seven years, America’s birth rate is trending upwards. After 2020’s historic low (the lowest birth rate in 36 years), the rebound marks a baby blip, or a small unexpected upward trend in births. Not quite a baby boom, the new provisional report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows a 1 percent increase in the birth rate last year, with 3,659,289 babies born in 2021 compared to 2020’s 3,613,647 births.

While the CDC doesn’t speculate in its report on what has caused the birth increase, there are many theories as to why there’s finally an upward trend. Pew Research polls have suggested that the uptick in births could be a result of families who had postponed their baby plans.

In an interview with ABC News, the lead author of the report, Brady Hamilton, MD, explains that birth rates decreased for women under 24 while rates for women over 25 increased. “That sort of suggests [that] when we saw the decline in births from 2019 to 2020, probably a lot of births were postponed,” Hamilton said. “People were waiting to see what happened [with the pandemic] and rates rose in older women as they may have proceeded to have that child.”

Overall, a decreasing total fertility rate, or the estimated number of births a group of 1,000 people would cumulatively have throughout their life, shows that women today are having fewer babies than previous generations. This has scientists concerned that Americans aren’t having enough children to maintain the current population.

Researchers also looked at births by race and found that white and Hispanic women each saw an increase in the number of births, while Asian, American Indian/Alaskan Native and Black women saw a decline.

Other data presented in the report includes a 6 percent decline in teen births between the ages of 15 and 19 to 14.4 per 1,000, a record low and a 77 percent decline since 1991. Unfortunately, preterm births rose 4 percent in 2021, from 10.09 percent to 10.48 percent, the highest reported rate since 2007.

If you’re among those families expecting a baby, congrats! For resources on preparing for your newborn’s arrival, check out The Bump’s Third Trimester Guide.

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