1995 Birth Statistics Released

For Release: Tuesday, June 10, 1997

Contact: Sandra Smith or Mary Jones (301) 458-4800

MVSR Vol. 45, No. 11(S). Report of Final Natality Statistics, 1995. 80 pp. (PHS) 97-1120 [PDF – 826 KB]

The latest final data on birth patterns in the United States show significant improvements in several critical areas–a record high for prenatal care, a continued decline in cesarean deliveries, and another drop in the number of women who smoke during pregnancy. In contrast the 1995 report documents no improvement in low birthweight, a major cause of infant mortality. Low birthweight remains at the highest level in two decades. The new report, from the National Center for Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is a comprehensive analysis of the patterns of birth and fertility in the United States and the characteristics and factors that affect maternal and infant health. Among the major findings:

  • Prenatal care – The percent of mothers who began prenatal care within the first trimester improved to 81.3 percent for 1995, the highest level ever recorded. After a decade of no improvement through the 1980’s, there has been steady progress from 1989 when only 75 percent of women received timely prenatal care.
  • Cesarean deliveries – The rate of cesarean deliveries declined for the sixth consecutive year, to 20.8 percent in 1995 compared with 22.8 percent in 1989, a drop of 9 percent. At the same time vaginal births after previous cesarean deliveries increased 46 percent during this same time period. New guidelines have encouraged women and their physicians to reduce repeat cesareans.
  • Cigarette smoking during pregnancy – Tobacco use during pregnancy has declined steadily since 1989. In 1995, 14 percent of pregnant women smoked. Maternal smoking has a strong adverse effect on infant birthweight. Women who smoke are almost twice as likely to have a low birthweight infant as nonsmokers.
  • Low birthweight – The low birthweight rate was 7.3 percent for 1995, the same level reported for 1994–and the highest reported since 1976. Low birthweight increased among white mothers from 6.1 to 6.2 percent. Although the rate of low birthweight is still more than twice as high among black women (13.1 percent), the rate of low birthweight for black infants has been dropping since 1992.
  • Preterm births – Along with low birthweight, there was no change for 1995 in the rate of preterm births (less than 37 weeks completed gestation). In 1995, 11.0 percent of births were preterm; this proportion has risen 17 percent since 1981. Following a pattern similar to low birthweight, preterm births have increased among white mothers but declined among black mothers to the lowest level since the mid-1980’s. However, black women are still almost twice as likely as white women to have a preterm birth.
  • Birth and fertility rates – Births in the United States declined in 1995 for the fifth consecutive year, to 3,899,589, 1 percent lower than 1994 and 6 percent lower than in 1990. The 1995 birth rate (14.8 births per 1,000 population) was down 3 percent from 1994 and 11 percent from 1990. Similarly, the fertility rate dropped 2 percent to 65.6 births per 1,000 women aged 15-44 years.
  • Teenage births – The birth rate for teenagers declined 4 percent from 1994 to 1995. The decline in birth rates was noted for young teenagers 15-17 years and was slightly more pronounced than for those teenagers 18-19 years. Although declines were observed for all racial and Hispanic origin groups, the largest decline–8 percent overall–was reported for black teenagers. Teenage birth rates are highest for Mexican American, Puerto Rican, and black women.
  • Peak childbearing years – For women in the United States, the decade of the twenties is still the peak childbearing years. However, birth rates for women aged 20-29 years continued to decline in 1995 and were the lowest since 1987.
  • Births to older women – Birth rates for women in their thirties are still increasing but the pace has slowed. Rates for women in their thirties were highest for Asian or Pacific Islander and non-Hispanic white women. The birth rate for women aged 40-44 years rose 20 percent between 1990 and 1995, and increased 74 percent during 1981-95. The rising birth rate along with the increasing number of women in this age group has meant that there were more babies born in 1995 to mothers in their forties than in any year since 1966.
  • Multiple births – The number of triplet and other higher order multiple births continues to increase, up 8 percent from 1994 to 1995. The number of twin births declined slightly, but the overall multiple birth ratio rose to 26.1 per 1,000 births. The increase in multiple births is associated with older mothers and with the use of fertility enhancing drugs and procedures.
  • Birth rate for unmarried women – The number and rate of births to unmarried women declined in 1995. Rates declined for unmarried women in all age groups under 40.

The “Report of Final Natality Statistics, 1995,” by Stephanie J. Ventura, Joyce A. Martin, Sally C. Curtin, and T. J. Mathews, Monthly Vital Statistics Report, Vol. 45, No. 11, Supplement, is based on 100 percent of the births registered in all States and the District of Columbia and is reported to NCHS through the National Vital Statistics Cooperative Program.