Story at a glance
- The U.S. birth rate declined in 2018, continuing a decade-long trend.
- Experts are not sure what the rate will look like for 2019 alongside the coronavirus pandemic.
U.S. birth rates declined even further last year, which saw the fewest number of births in 35 years, according to the Associated Press.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released preliminary data Wednesday confirming a slowdown of births in the country. The report is based on a review of over 99 percent of birth certificates issued in 2019.
The AP says that the “baby bust” has been trending in the U.S. for over a decade. Experts reportedly believe that the coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent economic fallout will further incentivize Americans to reconsider having a baby.
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“This unpredictable environment, and anxiety about the future, is going to make women think twice about having children,” Dr. Denise Jamieson, chair of obstetrics and gynecology at Emory University, told the AP.
The CDC found that the number of total U.S. births last year fell by roughly 1 percent from 2018, resulting in about 3.8 million births.
The current birth rate in the U.S. is 11.6 per a population of 1,000, according to CDC statistics.
Other statistics posted in the CDC report reveal that the percent of babies born preterm, or less than 37 weeks old, was approximately 10 percent, and about 32 percent of all births were cesarean deliveries.
AP notes that U.S. birth rates have been falling each year since 2007, at the onset of the Great Recession.
The decline has persisted, with experts saying that, outside of the economy, shifting attitudes toward motherhood and couples delaying parenthood are two of the most prominent factors.
Brady Hamilton, the report’s lead author, says that it’s still unclear as to what will happen with U.S. births this year, and the impacts won’t be fully realized until late this year or early next year.
The idea of a baby boom due to the coronavirus keeping couples isolated at home is “widely perceived as a myth,” according to Hans-Peter Kohler of the University of Pennsylvania, who spoke to the AP in an email.
“The decline due to COVID-19 might be different given the extent and severity of the crisis, and the long-lasting uncertainty that is caused by it,” Kohler wrote.
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