07 Jun Birth Rates Drop, But Not for Older Women
Data released in May from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) statistics department said that birth rates remained on the decline in 2018, falling to record lows except for two age groups. Women in the age groups were getting pregnant are historically the most difficult – age groups of 35-39 and 40-44 – both went up, according to the preliminary data from 2018.
The birth rate for ages 35 to 39 was up 1 percent reaching 52.5 births per 1,000 women, while birth rates for women aged 40 to 44 climbed at twice that rate, growing 2 percent from the previous year to 11.8 births per 1,000. Furthermore, in the same era in which teenage pregnancy rates are dropping, the pregnancy rate of these two groups has been clipping along at a 2 percent rise, on average, since 1982.
At the same time, the rate of low birth weight incidents was statistically unchanged in 2018, holding steady at 8.28 percent of births. The statistic counts low birth weight as newborn infants born at under 5.5 pounds.
Clearly, reproductive technologies are having an impact on national trends, but how much is hard to say. Women under 35 years of age are the largest group of women using Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART). They make up about 38 percent of the women who use reproductive assistance. The second largest group is women ages 35 through 37, who make up 21 percent of the women using reproductive technology to assist in getting pregnant.
This is followed by women aged 38 through 40 (19.4 percent), 41 through 42 (10 percent), 43-44 (6.4 percent) and older than 44 (5.1 percent). The numbers come from the CDC’s National Vital Statistics System, specifically from their 2015 Assisted Reproductive Technology National Summary.
The CDC’s National Vital Statistics System preliminary report for 2018, however, shows some startling numbers on teenage pregnancies. The birth rate for women aged 15 to 19 hit a record low in 2018, falling to 17.4 births per 1,000 women, down 7 percent from the previous year. Furthermore, birth rates for this group have dropped by 58 percent since 2007 alone and by 72 percent since 1991, averaging a decline of 5 percent per year.
The Big Picture
Overall, however, the birth rate for women aged 15 to 44, including the older groups where the rates rose, dropped 2 percent from the year before, continuing an average of 2 percent of decline going back to 2014. As it happens, births in the United States are not keeping up at what is called a replacement rate.
The preliminary report for 2018 says the birth rate last year amounted to 1,728 births per 1,000 women, a drop of 2 percent from the year before. This number is an estimate based on the age-specific birth rates in any given year, calculated to come up with a figure of births likely in a woman’s lifetime. Stacked next to the nations death rate, that’s not high enough for the population to replace itself.
The NVSS report also tracks premature deliveries, which are counted as infants born at under 37 weeks of gestation. Premature births rose in 2018, climbing 0.09 percentage points to 10.02 percent. This number has gained each year since 2014, although in prior years it was on the decline. Premature birth rates dropped 8 percent from 2007 to 2014. They have climbed 5 percent since then.