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Health & Pregnancy

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Teen Births at Record Low, C-Sections at Record High

New CDC Data: 1 in 3 Births via C-Section; Lowest Teen Birth Rate Ever
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

Dec. 21, 2010 -- New data on U.S. births have broken three records, the CDC reported today.

Record No. 1: The U.S. teen birth rate is the lowest since record-keeping began in 1940.

Record No. 2: One in three U.S. babies (32.9%) are delivered by C-section.

Record No. 3: The U.S. birth rate is the lowest ever, at 13.54 births per 1,000 total population.

The data are from an analysis of nearly all U.S. birth certificates from 2009 by the CDC's Division of Vital Statistics.

Births to teens aged 15 to 19 dropped 6% to a rate of 39.1 births per 1,000 teens. Teenagers were part of a national decline in both birth rate and fertility.

The only group to see a birth rate increase was women in their early 40s.

Although unmarried women also had fewer births, the percentage of mothers who are unwed rose to 41%.

Here are some other interesting statistics from the CDC's preliminary 2009 vital statistics on U.S. births:

  • The birth rate for women in their early 20s fell by 7%, the largest decline in this group since 1973.
  • For the second straight year, preterm births declined. In 2009, 12.2% of all U.S. births were premature.
  • As recently as 1996, the C-section rate was 20.7%, just over one in five of all U.S. births. The rate has climbed steadily since then to just a fraction under one in three U.S. births.
  • After decades of steady increase, the very low weight (less than 3 pounds 4 ounces) birth rate is leveling off at 1.45% of all U.S. births.

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