A new CDC report says that women are having fewer babies than ever, except for those in their 40s.
The birth rate in the United States fell to its lowest level since 1987, according to a new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. According to the research, birth rates declined significantly for all age groups, except for women in their 40s, where birth rates actually grew.
The provisional report was based on a review of 99.9% of the birth certificates filed in the United States in 2017. According to the report, the number of births last year was 3,853,472, down 2% from the year prior, and the lowest number in 30 years.
Both the birth rate, which measures the number of live births per 1,000 people and the fertility rate, which measures the average number of children a woman will have over her lifetime, fell.
The most significant decline in birth rates can be seen in teens, where there was a 7 percent decline in births, bringing the rate to a record low of 18.8 births per 1,000. Birthrates fell 4 percent for women ages 20 to 29.
Up until last year, women in their 30s were giving birth at increasing rates. However, 2017 saw a 2% drop for women in their early 30s and a 1% drop for women in their late 30s.
Women in their 40s, however, were the only group to see a higher birth rate than the previous year. For women between the ages of 40 and 44, there were 11.6 births per 1,000 women, up 2 percent from 2016, according to the data. Further, births to women between the ages of 45 to 49 grew 3 percent.
Experts suggest that the long-term trend of decline in birth rate and fertility in the United States is not uncommon. As countries become increasingly developed, women historically have fewer babies.
There are several theories as to the reasons for the drastic decline. Many experts believe that women are choosing to delay motherhood as they build their careers. Others suggest that as millennials are less financially stable, and therefore are putting off having children. Many have pointed to changes in immigration patterns and laws.
Further, the United States is the only developed nation that does not guarantee family leave to new parents, likely pushing the numbers down further.
“Women are becoming more educated, they are in the workforce, they are pursuing their careers,” said Donna Strobino, professor of population, family, and reproductive health at Johns Hopkins University. “And in the absence of policies that really help women who are working to really take some time off post-partum, you are probably going to see a continuation of this delay.”
Thanks to advances in fertility treatments, delaying motherhood is becoming more mainstream, which likely contributes to the reason why the birth rates are increasing in the older populations.
The report also found some other troubling news. The cesarean section rates rose ever so slightly, as did the rates of preterm births and low birth weight babies.