CDC: U.S. Birth Rate Sees Largest Drop in 50 Years

Babies in special baby care unit
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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that the birth rate in the U.S. fell by four percent in 2020 — the largest yearly drop in five decades.

The rate dropped across every major racial group and in nearly all age groups, falling to the lowest point since the government started tracking the data more than a century ago.

The Guardian analyzed the data in the report:

The U.S. once was among only a few developed countries with a fertility rate above the 2.1 children per woman that ensured each generation had enough children to replace itself.

But the rate has been sliding for more than 10 years and last year dropped to about 1.6, the lowest rate on record. The figures suggest that the current generation will not have enough children to replace itself.

The CDC report is based on a review of more than 99 percent of birth certificates issued last year. The findings echo a recent Associated Press analysis of 2020 data from 25 states showing that births had fallen during the coronavirus outbreak.

“The fact that you saw declines in births even for older moms is quite striking,” the lead author of the study, Brady Hamilton, said in the Guardian report.

The outlet further noted that the coronavirus may have contributed to last year’s birth rate as people were anxious about having a child during the pandemic.

“But many of the 2020 pregnancies began well before the U.S. epidemic,” the Guardian reported.

Other highlights from the CDC report, as highlighted by the Guardian, include:

  • About 3.6 million babies were born in the U.S. in 2020, down from about 3.75 million in 2019. When births were booming in 2007, the U.S. recorded 4.3 million births.
  • The U.S. birth rate dropped to about 56 births per 1,000 women of child-bearing age, the lowest rate on record. The rate is about half of what it was in the early 1960s.
  • The birth rate for 15- to 19-year-olds dropped 8 percent from the rate in 2019. It has fallen almost every year since 1991.
  • Birth rates fell 8 percent for Asian-American women; 3 percent for Hispanic women; 4 percent for black and white women; and 6 percent for mothers who were American Indian or Alaskan native.
  • The caesarean delivery rate rose slightly to about 32 percent and has been regularly declining since 2009.

Further, “[t]he percentage of infants born small and premature — at less than 37 weeks of gestation — fell slightly to 10 percent after increasing for five consecutive years,” the outlet noted.

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