Report: U.S. Births Decreased Last Year

Honduran migrant Raquel Padilla, 27, shows her four-month pregnant belly at the "FM4 Paso Libre" shelter, an organization that offers housing, food, and legal advisoring to migrants during their stay in Guadalajara, Mexico on August 10, 2018. - From the south border with Guatemala to the north border with the United States, AFP met during 24 hours migrants in pursue of their "American dream" risking their lives though Mexican territory, who share their journey stories. (Photo by ULISES RUIZ / AFP) (Photo credit should read ULISES RUIZ/AFP via Getty Images)
(Photo credit should read ULISES RUIZ/AFP via Getty Images)

OAN’s Abril Elfi
12:51 PM – Thursday, April 25, 2024

According to provisional statistics by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a little under 3.6 million babies were born in 2023, which is approximately 76,000 less than in 2022 and the lowest number since 1979.


Before COVID-19 struck, U.S. birth rates had been declining for over ten years. From 2019 to 2020, they decreased by 4%. After that, they increased for two years in a row, a rise that experts partly attributed to delayed pregnancies among couples during the early stages of the pandemic.

Nicholas Mark, a University of Wisconsin researcher who studies how social policies affect health and fertility, said that “the 2023 numbers seem to indicate that the bump is over and we’re back to the trends we were in before.”

Birth rates have been rising for women in their 30s and 40s but have been declining for teenagers and younger women for some time. Experts attribute this trend to women pursuing careers and education before trying to start families. However, birth rates decreased last year for all women under 40 and remained unchanged for those over 40.

Mark expressed that it was a surprising development, and that “there’s some evidence that not ust postponement is going on.” Reports also show that rates fell across almost all of the ethnic and racial groups. 

Although the figures released on Thursday are preliminary and subject to change as they are finalized, they are based on more than 99.9% of the birth certificates filed in 2023. For instance, the preliminary 2022 birth count seemed to be declining, but upon closer inspection, the final total exceeded that of 2021.

The first author of the new report, Brady Hamilton of the CDC, stated that while there might be a correction to the 2023 data, it will not be sufficient to reverse the “sizable” decline observed in the provisional figures.

Experts have speculated about the potential effects on births in relation to the June 2022 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, allowing states to restrict or outlaw abortion. Restrictions on access to abortion services may have an impact on the number of births, as experts estimate that almost half of pregnancies are unplanned.

The decision did not result in an increase in births nationally, according to the new report, but the researchers did not examine birth trends in specific states or break down the data across all demographic groups.

Dr. John Santelli, a Columbia University professor who studies population, family health, and pediatrics, said that this new data is worrisome and indicates “whatever we’re doing for kids in middle and high school is faltering.”

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