Birth Rate for Women Aged 40-44 Years Rose in 2003, New Report Finds

For Release: Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Contact: CDC/NCHS Press Office, (301) 458-4800


Births: Preliminary Data for 2003. NVSR Volume 53, Number 9. 18 pp. (PHS) 2004-1120. pdf icon[PDF – 860 KB]

Preliminary birth data for 2003 indicate that the birth rate for women aged 40-44 years increased in 2003 while the rate for women aged 45-54 years remain unchanged, according to a new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This is the first time that births to women over 40 topped 100,000 in a single year.

The report, “Births: Preliminary Data For 2003,” shows that birth rates for women aged 40-44 years rose 5 percent between 2002 and 2003 from 8.3 to 8.7 births per 1,000 women. The rate for women aged 45-54 years remained unchanged at 0.5. The birth rate for women aged 40-44 years has more than doubled since 1981.

Other findings in the report include:

  • Birth rates for women aged 30-34 years increased by 4 percent from 2002 to 2003, while the rate for women aged 35-39years rose 6 percent.
  • The teen birth rate fell for the 12th straight year, from 43.0 births per 1,000 teens aged 15-19 years in 2002 to 41.7 in 2003.
  • Birth rates for women aged 20-24years decreased slightly by 1 percent in 2003, while for women aged 25-29 years the rates increased slightly (by 2 percent).
  • The proportion of births to unmarried women increased from 34 percent in 2002 to 34.6 percent in 2003, while the birth rate for unmarried women grew 3 percent over the same period. Meanwhile, births to unmarried teenagers declined for the fifth straight year, though the decline was slight.

The report includes other important health information, such as:

  • The percent of mothers who smoked during pregnancy decreased from 11.4 percent in 2002 to 11.0 in 2003.
  • The percent of women who received prenatal care within the first 3 months of pregnancy increased between 2002 and 2003, continuing a pattern that began in the early 1990s. Slightly over 84 percent of women received early prenatal care in 2003.
  • The cesarean delivery rate rose for the seventh straight year. Preliminary 2003 data show that 27.6 percent of all births were cesarean deliveries, a marked 6-percent increase from 2002.
  • The percent of babies born preterm (less than 37 weeks of gestation) rose from 12.1 in 2002 to 12.3 in 2003, continuing its steady increase since the mid-1990s.
  • The percent of babies born at low birthweight (under 2,500 grams) rose from 7.8 percent in 2002 to 7.9 percent in 2003. Low birthweight has gradually increased since the mid-1980s.

“Births: Preliminary Data For 2003” was prepared by CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics. The data were based on over 95 percent of birth records reported to vital statistics offices in all 50 States as part of the National Vital Statistics System. The report is available at CDC/NCHS Web site.


Page last reviewed: October 6, 2006