Teen Birth Rate Hits Historic Low

Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD on October 03, 2012

Oct. 3, 2012 -- U.S. birth rates are continuing their decline and dropped to just under 4 million births in 2011, according to new CDC statistics.

The report also shows that the general fertility rate, or average number of births per 1,000 women of childbearing age, dropped to the lowest level ever reported in the U.S., at about 63 births per 1,000.

Still, the birth rate for teenagers ages 15-19 fell to an all-time low of 31 births per 1,000 teens in 2011, down 8% from 2010.

The report also highlights some other good news for key signs of infant and maternal health, for example:

  • Cesarean deliveries:The upward trend in cesarean deliveries, or C-sections, may be coming to an end. After rising nearly 60% from 1996 to 2009, the rate of C-sections has stalled in the last two years at just under 33%.
  • Preterm birth rate: The number of babies born at less than 37 weeks' gestation fell for the fifth straight year to 11.7%. That’s 2% lower than the 2010 rate and 8% lower than the 2006 peak.

Birth Rate Dropping Among Younger Women

The study shows birth rates dropped in 2011 for teens and young women aged 15-29.

While teen birth rates hit a historic low in 2011, birth rates among young women aged 20-24 also reached the lowest rate ever recorded at 85 births per 1,000 women, a 5% drop from 2010.

Meanwhile, birth rates among women over 30 either rose or remained unchanged from 2010 to 2011.

For example, after three years of decline in the birth rate for women aged 35-39, the rate rose by 3% in 2011.

Among women aged 40-44, the birth rate rose by 1% to about 10 births per 1,000 women, the highest rate for women in this age group since 1967.

Researchers also found that the birth rate among single women has dropped a total of 11% since 2008 after rising steadily from 2002 to 2007.

The preliminary CDC report is based on state birth certificate data.