Many people are interested in birth statistics in the USA for a variety of reasons. The most frequently asked question is: how many babies were born recently in the USA?
In 2021 (the last year CDC provided statistical data), we had 3.659 million babies born in the USA. That translates into a General Fertility Rate of 56.6 births per 1000 women aged 15-44.
CDC provides vast amounts of interesting data about the number of births, mothers’ age, mode of delivery, and baby characteristics. I will present the essential highlights below, but if you are hungry for more numerical facts and are mathematically savvy, please refer to the original document that you can find here.
How is the number of births changing in the USA over the years and decades?
Due to various demographic factors such as the total population in a country, age distribution, influx of immigrants, and changing fertility rates, one should not look at the total number of births each year alone. It is more important to look at that number in the context of birth rates and fertility rates.
First, let’s look at the total number of births over the previous decade presented in Table 1 based on the CDC’s data.
Table 1. Total number of births in the USA since 2010 till 2021 (Saurced from CDC).
|Year||Number of births in millions|
It is clear to us right away that the number of births decreased from initial 3.999 ml in 2010 down to 3.659 ml in 2021. Statisticians point out that during the same period, birth rates significantly dropped. Also, the overal fertility rate was 64.1 in 2010 and only 56.6 in 2021. The fertility rate is defined as the number of births per 1000 women aged 15-44. Women at this age are likely to have babies and are also biologically capable of doing so.
The total number of births is also affected by the influx of immigrants and the mother’s ethnicity. One could speculate that Hispanic immigrants contributed to a higher number of births during the last two decades of the 20th century in the USA.
The American population’s long-term tendency to have fewer babies in each family started in the early 20th century and deteriorated over the next many decades (Table 2).
Table 2. Birth rate is defined as number of births per 1000 people in the population. The table shows decrease in birth rates in the USA starting from 1910.
One can only speculate why Americans have fewer babies. Among factors contributing to that are:
- Higher participation of women in the workforce.
- The better economic status of the families.
- More comprehensive education is required of the professionals before starting working and subsequently starting families.
Do teenagers have more or fewer babies comparing to the past?
In most cultures and societies, it is not desirable for teenagers to give births to babies. We want our teenagers to spend their time instead on education and preparation for their future successful life. Most of them are not ready to be parents. They are not prepared for that psychologically and economically.
Fortunately, birth rates for teenagers (females aged 15-19) have been consistently decreasing over the last 20-30 years. The birth rate for American teenagers in 2021 was 14.4 births per 1000 females. Interestingly for females at the age 15-17, it was 5.8 per 1000, and for women in the age group 18-19, it was 27.3 births per 1000.
At what age American women tend to have babies?
The group of women with the highest number of births are women 30 to 34 years old. Their birth rate reached 97.3 births per 1000 women in 2021.
Table 3. Birth rates for different age groups in the USA for year 2021. Based on data from CDC.
|Women’s age||Birth rate per 1000 women|
|15 – 17||5.8|
|18 – 19||27.3|
|20 – 24||61.5|
|25 – 29||92.0|
|30 – 34||97.3|
|35 – 39||54.2|
|40 – 44||12.1|
When we look at long-term trends of birth rates for different age groups of women, we will find out that over the last 30 years, birth rates decreased for women aged 15-29. In contrast, older women aged 30-44 tend to have more babies now than 30 years ago. Again, that has probably something to do with more extended education, economic status, and popularity of in vitro fertilization for older women not able to get pregnant earlier in natural way.
How many babies American women tend to have?
The number of babies that each woman has during their lifetime is called the fertility rate. The overall fertility rate for all ethnicities in 2021 was 1.66. It was below the so-called replacement population rate.
Interestingly those rates differ a lot across different races and ethnicities. The fertility rate (data from 2018) is the highest for the native Hawaiian women (2.1) and the lowest for Asian women (1.52). For Non-Hispanic white women, it is 1.64, and for Black women 1.79.
How many babies are born by Cesarean Section in the USA every year?
Most experts would agree that a cesarean section is not an ideal mode of delivery. It is not what nature would want us to do. However, cesarean delivery is also a life-saving procedure for some mothers and babies. It is hard to judge what should be the “right” rate of cesarean deliveries, but I would argue that 30% seems to be way too high.
In 2021, 31.8% of all births in the US occurred as cesarean deliveries (=1.16 million babies). The cesarean delivery rate was the lowest in 1996 at 20.7% and ever since had been rising almost every year to the current 31.8%. Interestingly, those rates differ among different racial and ethnic groups. For non-Hispanic white women (in 2018), it was 30.8%, and for black women, it was 36.1%.
Older women are also more likely to have a cesarean section to deliver a baby. Women aged 40 and above are twice as likely to have a cesarean section as women under age 20.
How many babies are born prematurely in the USA each year?
Premature birth is frequently associated with low birth weight and many conditions requiring an extended NICU stay and uncertain outcomes. You can learn more about health conditions found in premature babies in my article here.
Prematurity is defined as a birth occurring at fewer than completed 37 weeks of gestation. In 2021, 10.44% of all births were premature deliveries (382 000 babies per year).
Again, a significant disparity among outcomes in different racial and ethnic groups exists. While “only” 9.49% of white mothers have premature babies, 14.74% of black mothers end up with that undesirable outcome. The prematurity rate for Asian mothers was lowest at 9.22%.
What percentage of newborns have low birth weight at birth?
Birth weight is a function of adequate prenatal care and maternal and baby’s health status. Therefore, it is essential to know how many babies are born with low birth weight, defined as being below 2.5 kg or 5 pounds and 8 ounces.
In 2018, 8.28% were born with low birth weight. This rate was lowest for white women (6.91%), then for Hispanic (7.49%), and the highest for black women at 14.07%. Due to various factors, black families tend to have the highest prematurity rates and low birth weight rates.
How common are multiple births in the USA?
Babies born as twins or triplets are more likely to be born prematurely and with low birth weights. In fact, data shows that 56% of twins and 95% of triplets are born with a lesser than 2.5kg birth weight.
In 2018, there were 32.6 twins per 1000 births (total of 123 536 babies were born as twins). Historically, the number of twins was lowest in 1980 at 18.9 per 1000 deliveries and the highest at 33.2 twins per 1000 births in 2009. Increased use of infertility treatments could undoubtedly explain such a significant increase in twins’ number in the last 30 years.
The triplet and higher-order multiple birth rates were much less frequent and occurred at the rate of 93 per 100 000 deliveries (3525 babies in 2018). That rate was significantly down from its peak of 193 per 100 000 that occurred in 1998. Most likely, more judicious use of fertility drugs and policies restricting the number of embryos implanted during IVF can explain that positive change.
You can learn about different rates of twins and higher-order birth rates for various races from Table 4.
Table 4. Data adapted from CDC for the year 2018.
|Racial or ethnic group||Twin birth rate per 1000 deliveries||Triplet or higher order birth rate per 100 000 deliveries|
This article is only for general information purposes. It should not be viewed as any medical advice. There is a chance that information here may be inaccurate. It would be best if you always discussed all health-related matters with your doctor before making any decisions that may affect yours or your family members’ health.
If you have a premature baby in the NICU right now, please explore other articles on my website and check out my book written specifically for parents of babies who were born at fewer than 32 weeks. You can find this book here.