May 30, 2014 — The number of U.S. births increased by about 4,700 in 2013, marking the first rise in births in five years, according to new CDC data, the AP/Washington Times reports. In total, slightly fewer than four million infants were born in the U.S. last year (Stobbe, AP/Washington Times, 5/29).
Despite the increased number of births, the U.S. fertility rate declined slightly in 2013, to 62.9 births per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44 years, compared with 63 births in 2012 (Shah, Wall Street Journal, 5/29). Women in 2013 could expect to have an average of 1.87 children, slightly less than the rate of 2.1 children per woman that is considered necessary to keep the population the same (AP/Washington Times, 5/29).
CDC has tracked birth rate figures since the early 1960s (Wall Street Journal, 5/29). U.S. births reached an all-time high in 2007, then declined during the economic recession before leveling off around 2011. Researchers said that the new increase could be tied to the strengthened economy.
Teen Birth Rate Declines
The researchers also found that the teen birth rate fell by 10% between 2012 and 2013, the largest decline since a similar 10% drop between 2009 and 2010. U.S. teens gave birth to about 275,000 infants last year, compared with a peak of nearly 645,000 infants in 1970 (AP/Washington Times, 5/29).
Further, the researchers determined that births to teens ages 15 to 17 decreased by 13% in 2013, to 12.3 births per 1,000 women. The birth rate among teens ages 15 to 17 has fallen by 68% since a peak in 1991, along with a 50% decrease among teens ages 18 to 19. However, the birth rates among black and Hispanic teens remain higher than among their white peers (Wall Street Journal, 5/29).
According to the AP/Times, experts said the decline in adolescent birth rates can be attributed to increased use of contraceptives and less sexual activity, among other factors, although they were surprised at how rapid the drop has been.
C-Sections, Preterm Births Lower
In addition, the data show that there was a slight decline in the proportion of births delivered by cesarean section last year, down to below 33%.
The preterm birth rate -- defined as deliveries before 37 weeks of pregnancy -- fell to roughly 11% in 2013, continuing a decline that started in 2006 (AP/Washington Times, 5/29).