U.S. fertility rate, teen births are on the decline


The general fertility rate in the United States decreased 2% between 2017 and 2018, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A woman's pregnant belly ©fotolia

Fertility rates, defined as births per 1,000 women aged 15-44 years, declined for all racial/ethnic groups studied.

Teen birth rates, or births among girls aged 15-19 years, declined from 2017 to 2018 as well.

These data come from the National Vital Statistics System’s Natality Data File, which includes information from birth certificates for all births in the United States.

The data show a decline in the general fertility rate from 60.3 per 1,000 women in 2017 to 59.1 per 1,000 women in 2018, a significant decrease (P less than .05).

Fertility rates declined across the three largest racial/ethnic groups studied, decreasing:

  • 3% in Hispanic women, from 67.6 to 65.9 per 1,000.
  • 2% in non-Hispanic black women, from 63.1 to 62.0 per 1,000.
  • 2% in non-Hispanic white women, from 57.2 to 56.3 per 1,000.

Similarly, teen birth rates declined 7% from 2017 to 2018, decreasing from 18.8 to 17.4 births per 1,000 girls aged 15-19 years (P less than .05). Rates decreased:

  • 8% in Hispanic teens, from 28.9 to 26.7 per 1,000.
  • 4% in non-Hispanic black teens, from 27.5 to 26.3 per 1,000.
  • 8% in non-Hispanic white teens, from 13.2 to 12.1 per 1,000.

The data also show an increase in the rate of vaginal births after previous cesarean (VBAC) delivery. The percentage of VBAC deliveries increased from 12.8% in 2017 to 13.3% in 2018 (P less than .05).

VBAC delivery rates increased across all racial/ethnic groups studied, although the increase among non-Hispanic back women was not significant.

Finally, the report shows an increase in preterm and early term births from 2017 to 2018. Preterm deliveries (less than 37 weeks of gestation) increased from 9.93% to 10.02%, and early term deliveries (37-38 weeks) increased from 26.00% to 26.53% (P less than .05).

At the same time, full-term births (39-40 weeks) decreased from 57.49% to 57.24%, and late- and post-term births (41 weeks or more) decreased from 6.58 % to 6.20% (P less than .05). These findings were consistent across the racial/ethnic groups studied.

SOURCE: Martin JA et al. NCHS Data Brief. 2019 July; no 346.

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