According to a new federal data, the number of births in the United States climbed for the first time in seven years.
According to preliminary data released Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics, 3,659,289 babies were born in 2021, up 1% from 2020.
It’s also the first time births have increased since 2014. The number of births had been declining at a rate of 2% per year prior to this report.
The research did not explain why the number of births climbed, but according to Pew Research Center polls, Americans delayed having infants during the first year of the pandemic owing to public health and economic uncertainty, so the rising number could constitute a comeback.
“We’re constrained when it comes to changes in fertility behaviour,” Dr. Brady Hamilton of the NCHS Division of Vital Statistics, the report’s primary author, told ABC News. “That’s where a survey about the factors that influence decision-making is needed.”
The fertility rate, defined as the number of live births per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44, was 56.6, according to the report. According to the CDC, this is up from 56 in 2020 and the first increase since 2014.
The overall fertility rate, on the other hand, was 1,663.5 births per 1,000 women over their lifetimes.
This is still below the replacement level, or the number of births per 1,000 women required for a population to replenish itself, which is 2,100.
The researchers found that birth rates among women aged 25 and older increased while those aged 24 and younger decreased.
“That suggests that a lot of deliveries were probably postponed when we saw the fall in births from 2019 to 2020,” Hamilton added. “People were waiting to see what would happen [with the epidemic], and rates increased among older women, who may have gone on to have that kid.”
The birth rate among teenagers aged 15 to 19 fell by 6%, from 15.4 per 1,000 to 14.4 per 1,000, a new low for this age group.
Since 2007, teen births have been steadily declining, falling by roughly 7% per year until last year.
“When viewed across time, this is a 77 percent decrease since 1991 and a 65 percent decrease since 2017. That’s incredible, “According to Hamilton. “That is excellent news. It will be fascinating to watch if this trend continues into next year.”
Meanwhile, the birth rate for tweens and teens aged 10 to 14 was 0.2 per 1,000, steady since 2015, according to the data.
Researchers also looked at births by race and discovered that between 2020 and 2021, the number of newborns for white and Hispanic women increased by roughly 2% each.
During the same time period, the number of births among Black and Asian women fell by 2.4 percent and 2.5 percent, respectively, while the number of births among American Indian/Alaskan Native women fell by 3.2 percent.
The style of delivery and how early the babies were born were also investigated in the paper.
Cesarean deliveries accounted for 32.1 percent of all births in 2021, up from 31.8 percent in 2020 and the second consecutive increase after rates fell from 2009 to 2019.
C-sections increased in all racial and ethnic groups, with Black women experiencing the greatest increase, from 36.3 percent to 36.8%.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, while C-sections can reduce the chance of death in women with high-risk pregnancies, they are linked to complications like infection and blood clots.
In 2021, the preterm birth rate increased by 4%, from 10.09 percent to 10.48 percent, the highest recorded rate since 2007. Increases were reported in kids born early preterm (before 34 weeks of pregnancy) and later preterm (34 to 37 weeks of pregnancy).
Feeding, respiratory, vision, and hearing impairments, as well as behavioural concerns, are more common in premature babies.
“Any increase in preterm births is troubling,” said Joyce Martin, a co-author of the report from the Division of Vital Statistics. “We’ve also seen an increase in early-term babies, who have a higher risk of not surviving the first year of life than later-term babies.”
Martin said it’s unclear what’s causing the spike in preterm birth rates, but that mothers under the age of 18 and mothers over the age of 35 are more likely to have early kids.
“We also noticed a rise in the birth rates of older mothers. It’s yet unclear whether it has an impact on this shift “she stated.