US childbirth rates drop to 30-year low

US childbirth rates drop to 30-year low
© Getty Images

Childbirth rates in the U.S. have fallen to a 30-year low, with only 3.8 million births last year, according to new numbers released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

That's a 2 percent drop from 2016.

ADVERTISEMENT
The general fertility rate, or the number of live births per 1,000 women of childbearing age, was 60.2 percent, down 3 percent from 2016, reaching another record low for the nation, the CDC said. 

This means the U.S. is moving further away from replacement levels, the level at which a given generation can exactly replace itself. 

"The rate has generally been below replacement since 1971," the CDC said. 

Researchers have for years tried to figure out why the U.S. has faced declining fertility rates for decades. 

The strength of the economy is an important factor, but the fertility rate has not recovered since the Great Recession.

The numbers also showed that the trend of women waiting longer to have children is continuing — birth rates dropped for women aged 15–39, but increased for women aged 40–44. 

Teen pregnancy rates are also dropping, the report shows. 

The teen birth rate was 18.8 births per 1,000 women aged 15–19, down 7 percent from 2017. 

The rate has declined by 55 percent, or nearly 8 percent per year, since 2007, the CDC said.