C-Sections Rise, Teen Birth Rate Falls in 2008

Filed under: In The News, Delivery, Research Reveals

teen birth rate

Teen birth rates are down, but more older women are having babies. Credit: Getty Images

Americans had fewer babies in 2008, but more of them were delivered by cesarean section -- up to nearly a third, and more of them were born to older women, according to an annual survey to be published in Pediatrics.

That marks the 12th year in a row that C-section rates have risen, the survey finds. The Annual Summary of Vital Statistics: 2008 is compiled by the National Center for Health Statistics and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

In 2008, 4.3 million babies were born in the United States, a two percent drop from 2007, the year of the most births in recorded United States history, according to the survey. Teenage mothers giving birth also dropped by 2 percent; a reversal over the trend of the previous two years, when it had gone up.

And so much for the prime childbearing years: Women between the ages of 20 and 39 had fewer babies -- the first drop for 35-to 39-year-olds since 1978 -- but the number of women between 40 and 49 having babies went up, the report shows. Wedlock also seems to be falling out of favor a bit with new moms; 40.6 percent of the babies born in 2008 were the children of unmarried women, up from 39.7 percent the prior year. The rate of twin and triplet births was unchanged.

Their mothers may be getting older, but babies seem to be faring better: The number of infants born prematurely was 3 percent lower than in 2007, and the rate of babies born with low birth weights was unchanged, according to the survey.

And there's more good news: The report showed a drop in death rates for children between the ages of 1 and 18.

But there was also cause for concern. Nearly a third of all deliveries were done by C-section in 2008, a whopping 56 percent rise over 1996 rates, the survey shows. And homicide was the second leading cause of death for children 19 years old or younger, after unintentional injuries, which accounted for almost 39 percent of all deaths; together the two causes accounted for a bit more than half of all child and adolescent deaths.

Babies born in 2008 can expect to live an average of 77.8 years, the report says.

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