The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has noted a record low in birth rates but has also made some unsettling observations with respect to preterm births.
In the 2016 provisional data made public by the CDC, birth rates for women aged under 30, notably teenagers, hit a record low. Accordingly, 3,941,109 births were recorded last year, representing a 1 percent drop over the previous year. This is the second straight year that the total number of births has dropped. This also reflected in record-low general fertility rate in 2016, CDC stated in its report.
“The provisional 2016 general fertility rate for the United States was 62.0 births per 1,000 women aged 15–44, a decline of 1% from the rate in 2015 (62.5) and a record low rate for the country.”
The data churned out by the health agency also reveals that five of the most populous states contributed more than a third to the total number of births, with California’s births standing at close to half a million. Birthrate touched a record-low among teenage mothers aged 15-19 years.
“The provisional birth rate for teenagers was 20.3 births per 1,000 women aged 15–19 in 2016, down 9% from 2015 (22.3) and another record low for this age group.”
Teenage American mothers gave birth to 209,480 babies in 2016, down by about 53 percent from 2007 when 444,899 births were recorded. Last decade witnessed the biggest drop in teenage birth rate ever since 1991, when the decline began.
The nation’s total fertility rate did not change spectacularly as it has been under replacement level of 2.1 for over four decades. When TFR is at replacement level, a generation exactly replaces itself.
The report also testified that women are choosing motherhood later in life compared to five decades ago. The birth rate among women aged 30-34 years was up 1 percent over 2015, while a 2 percent increase was seen among women aged 35-39 years, marking the highest ever rate recorded since 1964, the CDC stated. Similarly, women aged 40-44 years recorded a 4 percent rise in birthrate in 2016 over the previous year.
The decrease in birth rate averaged across age-groups was accompanied by a drop in Cesarean births, including among low-risk pregnancies, where birth is likely through optional C-section.
Disconcerting, however, is the continued rise in preterm births and increase in low birth-weight (LBW) rate. Preterm birth rate stood at 9.84 percent in 2016, having increased since 2014 after registering a fall since 2007. Percentage of infants born weighing less than 2,500 grams or 5 lb, rose 2 percent in 2016.
“Among the six race and Hispanic origin groups presented in this report, LBW rates ranged from a low of 6.97% (non-Hispanic white births) to a high of 13.66% (Hispanic black births),” the report states.
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