Washington Post, February 5, 2007
By Amanda Gardner, HealthDay Reporter
The teen pregnancy rate in the United States is at an all-time low, while the rate of Caesarean deliveries is at an all-time high.
At the same time, the birth rates for mothers aged 30 and older rose in 2005 to levels not seen in nearly 40 years.
These findings are part of theAnnual Summary of Vital Statistics: 2005, published in the February issue ofPediatrics.
"These are the three most remarkable findings," said Brady Hamilton, lead author of the report and a statistician with the National Center for Health Statistics. "The rate of teen births fell to 40.4 births per 1,000 women aged 15 to 19. That's the lowest rate ever recorded in 65 years for which we have consistent data. It's quite impressive."
"The other noteworthy finding in 2005 was that 30.2 percent of all births were Caesarean delivery," Hamilton continued. "That's a 4 percent increase from 2004-05, which was also a record high."
A number of factors may explain the rise in the rate of Caesarean deliveries. "Vaginal births after Caesarean delivery are being discouraged, and the primary rate of Caesareans is rising, so, together, that is fueling this increase," said Fay Menacker, also a statistician at the National Center for Health Statistics. "The repeat Caesarean delivery rate was over 90 percent in 2004."
Part of the increase in the Caesarean delivery rate may be more older mothers, added Dr. Jennifer Wu, an obstetrician/gynecologist with Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. "They may also have had assisted reproductive technology and may be having multiples."
The drop in teen births is also probably being driven by several forces.
"This shows, maybe, that we're educating the public better, providing better health care, better contraception, better contraceptive choices for teens," Wu said.
Hamilton added: "The best evidence suggests that this reflects a combination of factors, including programs promoting abstinence as well as those promoting safe sex."
The decline in teen births was concentrated among girls aged 15 to 17.
The data in the report comes from U.S. vital statistics records, birth certificates, fetal death reports and death certificates. Here are some of the report's other findings:
A record number of unmarried women are having children. The total number of births to unmarried women rose by 4 percent, to 1,525,345, in 2005.Slightly more than 1.7 million people were added to the U.S. population in 2004, or 5.8 persons per 1,000 population.The preliminary estimate of births for 2005 was 4,140,419, an increase of 1 percent from 2004.The general fertility rate in 2005 was 66.7 births per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44 years, the highest level since 1993.The infant mortality rate was 6.79 per 1,000 live births in 2004, not statistically different from the year before. The report also found continued differences in infant mortality rates by race and ethnicity. Non-Hispanic black newborns were more than twice as likely as non-Hispanic white and Hispanic infants to die within a year of birth.
Other findings in the report:
The twin birth rate rose by 2 percent in 2004, to 32.2 twins per 1,000 total births, a record high. The rate of triplet and higher order multiple births declined by 6 percent in 2004, but increased by 400 percent between 1980 and 1998. Since 1999, that rate has stabilized.The proportion of all infants born very preterm rose slightly from 2.01 percent in 2004 to 2.03 percent in 2005.The percentage of infants born with low birth weight increased in 2005 to 8.2 percent of all births, up from 8.1 percent in 2004. The death rate for children aged 1 to 19 in 2004 was 32.7 per 100,000 population, or 0.9 percent lower than in 2003. The decrease in death rates was not statistically significant for any age group except 1- to 4-year-olds.For all children aged 1 to 19 years, the first and second leading causes of death in 2004 were unintentional injuries and homicide, respectively. Suicide rates for children up to 19 years increased in 2004. Rates for other causes of death did not change.Smoking among pregnant women declined slightly, to 10.2 percent, in 2004.In 2004, Americans had a life expectancy of 77.8 years, a record high.Death rates continued to decline for nine of the 15 leading causes of death.
To read the full report, visit the National Center for Health Statistics.
SOURCES: Brady E. Hamilton, Ph.D., statistician, National Center for Health Statistics, Hyattsville, Md.; Fay Menacker, Dr.Ph., statistician, National Center for Health Statistics, Hyattsville, Md.; Jennifer Wu, M.D., obstetrician/gynecologist, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City; February 2007Pediatrics
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