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Births: Summary of Birth Rate Data for 2009

The source for the data on U.S. births, birth rates, and fertility rates in this section is the National Vital Statistics Reports series published by the National Center for Health Statistics, a part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The report issued on Dec. 21, 2010, showing preliminary birth data for 2009 also highlighted these findings:

The 2009 preliminary estimate of registered births for the United States was 4,131,019, 3% less than 2008 (4,247,694). Births declined for all race and Hispanic origin groups, down 4% for Hispanic women, 2% for non-Hispanic white, non-Hispanic black and American Indian or Alaska Native (AIAN) women, and 1% for Asian or Pacific Islander (API) women.

The birth rate for teenagers fell 6% in 2009 according to preliminary data, the lowest level ever recorded in nearly seven decades of tracking teenage childbearing (since 1940). The number of births to teenagers under age 20 also fell 6%.

The birth rate for women 20–24 years declined 7% in 2009, to 96.3 births per 1,000 women from 103.0 in 2008, the largest decline in this rate since 1973. The number of births to women in this group also declined in 2009 (4%). The rate for women aged 25-29 years declined in 2009 as well, down 4% to 110.5 births per 1,000 women from 115.1 in 2008. The number of births to women aged 25–29 years decreased by 2% in 2009. The birth rate for women aged 30–34 years declined 2% in 2009 to 97.7 births per 1,000 women from 99.3 in 2008. The number of births to women in this age group declined slightly in 2009. The rate for women aged 35–39 years also declined in 2009, down 1 percent to 46.6 births per 1,000, from 46.9 in 2008. This marks a two year decline in the rate for this group which had been increasing since 1978. The number of births to women aged 35-39 years decreased 3% in 2009. The birth rate for women aged 40–44 years rose in 2009, the only age group to do so, up 3% from 9.8 births per 1,000 women in 2008 to 10.1, the highest rate since 1967. The rate for women aged 45–49 years (which includes births to women aged 50 years and over) was unchanged in 2009 at 0.7 births per 1,000 women. The number of births to women aged 40–44 years decreased slightly in 2009 whereas births to women aged 50 years and over increased by 4%.

Nonmarital births increased significantly in 16 states and declined in three areas (District of Columbia, Utah, and Washington); changes in other states were not significant. Teenagers accounted for 21% all nonmarital births in 2009, continuing a steady decline measured over the last several decades. In 1975, teenaged mothers comprised 52% of nonmarital births.

The cesarean delivery rate rose to 32.9% in 2009, an increase of 2% and another record U.S. high. The percentage of births delivered by cesarean has been rising steadily for over a decade, and is up nearly 60% since 1996. Between 2008 and 2009 cesarean delivery rates rose among women of all age groups 20 years and older, and all race and ethnicity groups. The largest increase was among non-Hispanic black women (up 3%); rates rose 1–2% among non-Hispanic white, Hispanic, AIAN and API women. In 2009, women 40 years and older were as likely to have a cesarean as a vaginal delivery, that is, half of all births to women in this age group were in a cesarean delivery (data not tabulated).

The preterm birth rate, declined in 2009 for the third straight year to 12.18% of all births, from 12.33% in 2008. The percentage of infants born preterm (less than 37 completed weeks of gestation) had risen by more than 1/3 from 1981 to 2006, but is down 5% from 2006. The lower preterm rate for 2009 marks the first sustained (more than 2 consecutive years) decline in this rate since 1981 when national gestational age data first became available.

Information Please® Database, © 2007 Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.

Live Births by Method of Delivery and Rates of Cesarean Delivery, 1989–2003BirthsSelected Demographic and Health Characteristics of Births by Race of Mother, 2004

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