U.S. birth rate falls to lowest level in 32 years, CDC says

By  | 

(CNN) - Fewer babies were born in the U.S. last year than at any time in the past 32 years. That’s according to a report published Wednesday.

Preliminary numbers from the National Center for Health Statistics at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show the birth rate dropped two percent from 2017.

"Even though the number of births we've seen in 2018 is the lowest that we've seen in 32 years, the total fertility rate is at a record low," said Brady Hamilton, a natality expert at the center and first author of the report.

The biggest decrease was in teen mothers. The birth rate dropped 7 percent among women 15-19 years old.

It also dropped four percent among women ages 20-24, 3 percent for women 25-29 and 1 percent for moms 30-34.

The rate rose for women 35-44 years old and stayed the same for mothers 45 and older.

In all, about 3.8 million babies were born in the U.S. last year.

“These data provide the official statistics on birth for the United States,” Hamilton said. “The data allow you to monitor patterns, in terms of birth-related health issues for infants and mothers, such as cesarean delivery, preterm or low birth weight rates.”

The U.S. population is not producing enough babies to replace itself, but that's not new.

The fertility rate has generally been below its replacement value since 1971.