Birth rates are rising for the first time in 7 years, the number of births had fallen by an average of 2% per year in the previous year

The number of births in the United States has risen for the first time in seven years, according to a new federal report.

Preliminary data released Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics showed that 3,659,289 babies were born in 2021, a 1% increase from 2020.

It is also the first rise in births since 2014. Prior to this report, births had been falling by an average of 2% per year.

The report didn’t explain why the number of births rose, but polls by the Pew Research Center found that public health and economic uncertainty caused Americans to delay having babies during the first year of the pandemic, so the rising number reflects that result of a recovery.

“When it comes to changes in fertility behavior, we’re limited,” said Dr. Brady Hamilton of the NCHS Division of Vital Statistics and lead author of the report told ABC News. “You need a survey about what’s behind the decision-making process.”

The report also showed that the fertility rate — the number of live births per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44 — was 56.6. That’s up from 56 in 2020, according to the CDC, and the first increase since 2014.

However, the total fertility rate — the number of births a hypothetical group of 1,000 people would have over their lifetime — was 1,663.5 births per 1,000 women.

This is still below what experts call the replacement level, the level that a population must replace itself, which is 2,100 births per 1,000 women.

The team looked at how fertility rates increased in women aged 25 and older while they decreased in women aged 24 and younger.

“That suggests [that] When we saw the drop in births from 2019 to 2020, a lot of births were probably postponed,” Hamilton said. “People were waiting to see what would happen [with the pandemic] and rates increased in older women as they may have had that child.

For teenagers aged 15 to 19, the birth rate fell by 6% from 15.4 per 1,000 to 14.4 per 1,000 – a record low for this age group.

Teenage births have steadily declined by an average of about 7% since 2007 to last year.

“If you look at it over time, that’s a 77% drop since 1991 and a 65% drop since 2017. That’s amazing,” Hamilton said. “This is certainly good news. And it will be interesting to see when we move into next year if this continues.”

Meanwhile, the birth rate for tweens and teenagers aged 10 to 14 was 0.2 per 1,000, unchanged since 2015, the report said.

The researchers also looked at births by race and found that births to white and Hispanic women each increased by about 2% from 2020 to 2021.

Meanwhile, Black and Asian women saw birth rates decline by 2.4% and 2.5%, respectively, over the same period, while Native American/Alaskan women saw birth numbers decline by 3.2%.

The report also looked at the type of birth and how early the babies were born.

The data showed that 32.1% of babies were born by caesarean section in 2021, up from 31.8% in 2020 and the second consecutive increase after rates fell from 2009 to 2019.

The percentage of cesarean sections increased across all racial and ethnic groups, with the highest observed in black women, from 36.3% to 36.8%.

While cesarean sections can reduce the risk of death in women with high-risk pregnancies, they are associated with complications such as infection or blood clots, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

The preterm birth rate also rose 4% in 2021, from 10.09% to 10.48%, the highest reported rate since 2007. Increases were seen in preterm infants, ie before 34 weeks gestation, and later preterm infants, d to 37 weeks gestation.

Premature babies are at higher risk of feeding, breathing, vision, hearing, and behavioral problems.

“Anytime you see an increase in preterm births, that’s worrying,” Joyce Martin, of the Department of Vital Statistics and a co-author of the report, told ABC News. “And we’ve seen an increase in preterm babies, and they’re at greater risk than later-born babies of not surviving the first year of life.”

Martin said it’s not clear what’s behind the rise in preterm birth rates, but mothers under 18 and over 35 are more likely to have preterm babies.

“And we’ve seen an increase in birth rates to older mothers. It’s not yet clear if this influences this change,” she said.

Copyright © 2022 ABC News Internet Ventures. Birth rates are rising for the first time in 7 years, the number of births had fallen by an average of 2% per year in the previous year

Dais Johnston

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