Teen births in US fall to record low, as overall total drops by 2%: CDC

Written by on April 25, 2024

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(NEW YORK) — The overall number of births in the United States dropped in 2023 as teenage births reached a record low, according to new provisional federal data published early Thursday.

In 2023, there were 3.59 million births recorded, a 2% decline from the 3.66 million recorded in 2022, according to the report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics.

This follows what has been a general decline since the mid-2010s. Between 2015 and 2020, the number of births fell an average of 2% per year from 2015 to 2020, including a decline of 4% from 2019 to 2020.

Births slightly rose, by 1%, from 2020 to 2021, and the number remained generally steady from 2021 to 2022, according to the report.

By maternal age, provisional birth rates declined for several age groups including teenagers between ages 15 and 19. For this group, the rate in 2023 was 13.2 births per 1,000 females down 3% from the rate of 13.6 per 1,000 in 2022, another record low for that age group.

Aside from an increase in 2006 and 2007, the teen birth rate in the U.S. has been continuously declining since 1991. From 2007 through 2023, rates for younger teens (ages 15-17) and older teens (ages 18-19) declined by 8% and 6% per year, respectively, the report found.

Reasons for the decline in teen pregnancy are not clear but the CDC says evidence suggests it’s due to a mix of more teens abstaining from sexual activity, and more sexually active teens using birth control.

Birth rates also declined for women between ages 20 to 29 and ages 30 to 39. For pre-teens and teens between ages 10 and 14 and women aged 40 and older, rates were relatively unchanged from 2022 to 2023.

Additionally, the fertility rate for women between ages 15 and 44 was 54.4 births per 1,000, down 3% from 2022, the report said. Similarly, the fertility rate had been declining from 2014 to 2020, rose from 2020 to 2021, and then began declining again.

“The total fertility rate in 2023 remained below replacement — the level at which a given generation can exactly replace itself (2,100 births per 1,000 women),” the report read. “The rate has generally been below replacement since 1971 and consistently below replacement since 2007.”

When broken down by race/ethnicity, nearly every group saw a decline in the provisional numbers of births with the biggest drop being 5% for American Indian and Alaska Native women. Hispanic women were the only group to see births rise, increasing by 1%, and the number was essentially unchanged for Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander women.

The report also looked at Cesarean delivery rates and found that in 2023, the overall rate increased to 32.4%, from 32.1% in 2022. According to the report, this is the fourth annual consecutive increase after the rate had been in decline since 2009 and the highest rate since 32.7% in 2013.

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