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    U.S. Women Delay Motherhood

    Preterm births, low birth weight babies declined in 2011, report says

    continued...

    In 2011 the rate of cesarean delivery remained about the same as the year before -- nearly 33 percent of all births. Previously, the number of women undergoing C-sections had increased steadily, jumping 60 percent from 1996 to 2009.

    Meanwhile, the rate of preterm deliveries (before 37 weeks) dropped in 2011 for the fifth straight year to 11.7 percent of all births, down 2 percent from 2010 and 8 percent from its high in 2006.

    The rate of babies born at a low birth weight in 2011 was 8.10 percent -- down somewhat from 8.15 percent in 2010 and 2 percent lower than the 2006 peak of 8.26 percent.

    Other notable findings: Multiple births were relatively unchanged in recent years. Twins accounted for 33.2 per 1,000 total births in 2011.

    Births of triplets and more also remained unchanged at 137 per 100,000.

    Dr. Mitchell Maiman, chairman of obstetrics and gynecology at Staten Island University Hospital in New York City, said he expects that women will continue to postpone childbirth.

    "More and more women are not only in the workforce, but more women are the primary breadwinner in the family," he said.

    "So you are going to have more women who are delaying childbearing to enhance their careers. And you have amazing technology to enable them to accomplish that," Maiman said. "You are going to see older and older mothers."

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