HYATTSVILLE, MD (NBC) – Across the U.S., women are having fewer babies. That’s the finding from a new report by the National Center for Health Statistics.
It reveals in 2018, there were just over 3.7 million births—a 32 year low.
Dr. Jeff Chapa with the Cleveland Clinic said, “I think what we’re seeing is that there is a trend towards delayed childbearing.”
Birth rates declined across nearly all age groups with the biggest drop among teens. But when it comes to women in their late 30s and early 40s those rates are up.
While the report doesn’t offer any explanations experts, like Dr. Chapa, cite a number of possible reasons. “We have more women who have careers and are in the workplace,” Dr. Chapa explained. “So education and getting established in their jobs has become a priority and they’ve put off having children until later.”
For the fourth year in a row, the number of pre-term births is up, possibly tied to higher risk pregnancies among older mothers.
Dr. Chapa said, “The rates of pregnancy complications such as hypertension, gestational diabetes, and other complications that might predispose to premature delivery have increased and that may be why we’re seeing the higher rates.”
Some suspect the downward trend seen in the report is just that—a trend—and may slow down or reverse itself as women who’ve delayed starting families begin to have the babies they’ve been planning for.
Other takeaways from the report: C-section delivery rates decreased to their lowest rates in nine years, and overall prenatal care rates rose slightly from last year.