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U.S. Birth Rate Declines, Caesarean Rate Rises

Annual Summary of Vital Statistics for 2004 also shows slight increase in nation's fertility rate

THURSDAY, Jan. 5 (HealthDay News) -- The U.S. birth rate fell to the second-lowest level ever reported in 2004 and the teen birth rate fell to a record low, but Caesarean births hit a record high, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics' Annual Summary of Vital Statistics, published in the January issue of Pediatrics. There was a slight increase in the total number of births and the fertility rate in 2004.

Donna L. Hoyert, Ph.D., of the National Center for Health Statistics, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Hyattsville, Md., and colleagues found that there were 4.1 million births in 2004 and that the crude birth rate was 14 per 1000 population, a 1% decline from 2003 (14.1 per 1000). Caesarean deliveries accounted for 29.1% of births, an increase of 6% since 2003.

The researchers also found that the fertility rate (66.3 births per 1000 women ages 15 to 44) increased by less than 1% from 2003 to 2004. Fertility rates were highest for Hispanic women (97.7 per 1000), followed by Asian or Pacific Islander (67.2 per 1000), non-Hispanic black (66.7 per 1000), Native American (58.9 per 1000), and non-Hispanic white (58.5 per 1000) women. The teen birth rate was 41.2 per 1000 women ages 15 to 19, a decline of 1% compared with 2003 (41.6 per 1000) and 33% compared with 1991 (61.8 per 1000).

Compared to other nations, the United States continues to rank poorly in infant mortality, which increased from 6.8 per 1000 live births in 2001 to 7.0 per 1000 live births in 2002, according to the report. But the authors found that death rates in children under age 19 in 2003 declined for seven of the 10 leading causes.

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