Questions for Brady E. Hamilton, Ph.D., Demographer, Statistician, and Lead Author on “Births: Provisional Data for 2016”
Q: Why did you decide to change the name of the report from preliminary to provisional?
BH: report is part of the National Vital Statistics System, Vital Statistics Rapid Release provisional data series which replaces the preliminary report series to provide a consistent set of quarterly and annual data releases. Except for small changes in record weights, the same processing procedure was used for provisional as was used for the preliminary data and the data are comparable.
Q: How does provisional 2016 data on U.S. births overall compare to previous years?
BH: The provisional number of births for the United States was down 1% in 2016 from the final number of birth in 2015. The general fertility rate was down too from 2015, 1%, to 62.0 births per 1,000 women aged 15–44, a record low for the county.
Birth rates declined for women in all age groups under 30 years between 2015 and 2016, to record lows for all groups, whereas the rates for women in their 30s and 40s rose.
The nonmarital birth rate declined 3% in 2016. In 2016, slightly more than 3 out of 4 women began prenatal care in the first trimester, down 3% from 2015. The cesarean delivery rate declined in 2016 for the fourth year in a row (to 31.9%). However, the preterm birth rate rose for the second year in a row in 2016 (to 9.84%) and the low birthweight rate was also up for the second straight year in 2016 (to 8.16%).
Q: How has the birth rate changed for U.S. teenagers in provisional 2016 data?
BH: The birth rate for teenagers aged 15–19 declined 9% in 2016 to 20.3 births per 1,000 women, with rates declining 11% for both younger (aged 15–17) and 8% for older (aged 18–19) teenagers. The 9% decline for teenaged 15-19 from 2015 to 2016 is atop of a continuous average decline of 8% from 2007 through 2014.
(The rates for younger and older teens declined on average by 11% and 8% from 2007 through 2014.)
Q: Was there anything in the 2016 provisional birth data that surprised you?
BH: Apart from the continued, unprecedented decline in teen birth, it is worth noting that women aged 30-34 have the highest birth rate (102.6 births per 1,000 women) in 2016 than any other age group. Since 1983, the rate for women in their late thirties was the highest.
In addition, it is also worth noting the rise in the preterm birth rate which was up again in 2016 (by 2%), after falling 8% from 2007 to 2014.
Q: What is the take home message from this report?
BH: The number of births and general fertility rate were down in 2016, as were the rates for women under 30 years of age. The percentage of births beginning prenatal care in the first trimester and the cesarean delivery rate were also down in 2016, whereas preterm birth and low birthweight rates rose.