Women Are Having More Children, New Report Shows Teen Births Continue to Decline

For Release: Tuesday, February 12, 2002

Contact: NCHS Press Office (301) 458-4800

E-mail: paoquery@cdc.gov

Births: Final Data for 2000. NVSR Volume 50, No. 5. 104 pp. (PHS) 2002-1120. [PDF – 1.3 MB]

Women in the United States are having more children than at any time in almost 30 years, according to the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) birth statistics released today by HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson. At the same time, Secretary Thompson said that births to teens continue to decline.

In 2000 the average number of children born to women over a lifetime was 2.1, according to a new CDC report, “Births: Final Data for 2000.” During most of the 1970s and 1980s women gave birth to fewer than 2 children on average, a rate insufficient to replace the population (2.1 is considered the population’s replacement level).

Increased fertility in 2000 was reported for all age groups except teenagers.

Birth rates for teenagers fell to 48.5 births per 1,000 females 15-19 years of age in 2000, a 22- percent decline from the record high of 62.1 in 1991.

“The continued decline in the teen birth rate is very encouraging,” said Secretary Thompson. “Reducing teen pregnancy is an important health goal for our nation.”

The birth rate for teens 15-17 was down 5 percent, while the rate for 18-19 year olds declined 1 percent for 2000. Overall teen birth rates declined for white, black, Hispanic, and Asian and Pacific Islander teens and were stable for American Indians.

The new report features a number of other significant findings:

  • There were 4,058,814 births in the United States in 2000, a 3-percent increase from 1999, and the third straight increase following nearly a decade of decline from 1990 through 1997.
  • The average number of children born to women over a lifetime was fairly consistent along racial lines. White, Asian/Pacific Islander and American Indian women all had total fertility rates of 2.1, and black women had a total fertility rate of 2.2.
  • Among Hispanic women, the total fertility rate (3.1) was higher than the national rate, with the highest rates for Mexican women (3.3) and Puerto Rican women (2.6) and the lowest for Cuban women (1.9).
  • The percent of women who smoked during pregnancy declined again in 2000 to 12.2 percent, and has dropped by more than one-third since 1989.
  • The rate of triplet and other higher-order multiple births declined for the second consecutive year, after increasing more than five-fold between 1980 and 1998.
  • The rate of cesarean deliveries rose for the fourth consecutive year to nearly 23 percent. The cesarean rate declined steadily between 1989 and 1996 but has risen 11 percent since 1996, and is now the highest reported since 1989. Between 1999 and 2000 the primary cesarean rate was up 4 percent and the rate of vaginal birth after a previous cesarean dropped 12 percent.
  • For the first year in nearly a decade, the preterm birth rate declined, from 11.8 percent to 11.6 percent of all births. The preterm rate has risen fairly steadily over the past two decades. However, the low birthweight rate (7.6 percent) did not improve in 2000.
  • More than one-third (33.2 percent) of all births were to unmarried women, up from 33 percent in 1999. Birth rates increased for unmarried women in all age groups except teenagers, whose rates continued to decline.

“The health consequences associated with smoking are something we want all Americans to be aware of, and it is gratifying that a very important group — pregnant women — are responding to this important health message,” said CDC Director Jeffrey Koplan, M.D., PhD.

The report is available on CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics web site.