New Study Profiles Hispanic Births in America

For Release: February 13, 1998

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

A new report from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, profiles the growing number of Hispanic births in America. In 1995, almost one in five births in the United States were to Hispanic women. The number of babies born to Hispanic women in the United States has risen every year since 1989, increasing from 14 percent of the total births to 18 percent of the total in 1995.

While Hispanic women as a group continue to have higher fertility rates than non-Hispanics, Mexican women in particular have dramatically higher rates. Seven in ten of the 679,768 Hispanic births in 1995 were to Mexican women. Using current fertility rates to estimate total fertility, Mexican women would have on average 3.3 births over their lifetimes, compared to 1.7 for Cuban women, 2.2 for Puerto Rican, 1.8 for non-Hispanic white and 2.2 for non-Hispanic black women.

The report presents statistics on a wide variety of fertility and health measures for births to Hispanic women as a group and for Hispanic subgroups including Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, and Central and South American because there are important differences among the subgroups. For comparative purposes data for non-Hispanic white and black women are shown.

Highlights of the report:

Teen births – In 1995, Hispanic teen birth rates were the highest in the Nation, surpassing for the first time the non-Hispanic black rate, which had previously been the highest. Higher rates for Hispanics are primarily driven by the higher teen births among Mexican women.

  • Prenatal care – Prenatal care can promote healthy pregnancies, and there has been dramatic increase in timely prenatal care for Hispanic women, up 19 percent from 1989 to 1995. Still, just over 70 percent of Hispanic women began prenatal care in the first trimester of pregnancy. This proportion is similar to that for non-Hispanic black women but considerably lower than the 87 percent of non-Hispanic white women who began care in the first trimester. Among Hispanics, Cuban women were the most likely (89 percent) and Mexican women the least likely (69 percent) to receive timely care.
  • Low Birthweight – The rate of low birthweight among Hispanic infants continued to be favorable, at 6.3 percent, but low birthweight varies considerably among Hispanic subgroups, from 5.8 percent for Mexicans to 9.4 for Puerto Ricans.
  • Cesarean Delivery – There is considerable variation in cesarean delivery rates among Hispanic women, with highest rates among Cuban women (30 percent) compared to 20 percent for Mexican women. While the cesarean rate for Cuban women has been dropping, they still have a rate higher than the national average of 21 percent.

The report also analyzes data by other demographic characteristics such as marital status, educational attainment, and live-birth order as well as infant health factors such as preterm delivery and multiple births. Data in this report are based on 100 percent of birth certificates registered in all States and the District of Columbia and reported to NCHS through the National Vital Statistics System. Copies of “Births of Hispanic Origin, 1989-95” by T. J. Mathews, Stephanie J. Ventura, Sally C. Curtin and Joyce A. Martin are available from NCHS.