US birth rates rise for the first time in seven years

The United States’ birth rate in 2021 rose for the first time in seven years, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report. 

“We’re still not returning to pre-pandemic levels,” Dr. Denise Jamieson, chair of gynecology and obstetrics at Emory University School of Medicine, said.

The CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics reviewed 99.94% of registered birth records in 2021 and found a 1% birth rate increase that year compared to 2020. 

It is the first birth rate increase since 2014. Prior to the 2021 data, birth rates had fallen by an average of 2% each year. 

The data found there were 3.7 million births reported last year, compared to about 3.6 million recorded in 2020. Though the birth rate ticked up last year, there were still about 86,000 fewer births in 2021 compared to 2019. 

Officials think last year’s uptick reflects births from pregnancies that had been put off during the uncertain early days of the pandemic. Data show births were down in January of 2021, but ticked up as the year continued, Brady Hamilton, lead author of the new report, said. 

Birth rates rose for both Hispanic and White women, by 1% and 3% respectively. While birth rates among Asian women, Black women, and Native American and Alaska Native women all fell anywhere from 1% to 4% in 2021. 

Teen birth rates notably fell by 6%, while pregnancies among older women increased. The data show births among women in their early 30s increased by ​​3%, 5% for women in their late 30s, and 3% for women in their early 40s.

“That sort of suggests [that] when we saw the decline in births from 2019 to 2020, probably a lot of births were postponed,” Hamilton said. “People were waiting to see what happened [with the pandemic] and rates rose in older women as they may have proceeded to have that child.”

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