Quarterly Provisional Estimates for Selected Birth Indicators, 2015—Quarter 1, 2017 Quarterly Provisional Estimates of Infant Mortality, 2014—Quarter 3, 2016 Vital Statistics Rapid Release from the National Vital Statistics System

August 8, 2017

Lauren_RossenQuestions for Lauren Rossen, Ph.D., Health Statistician and Lead Author of “Quarterly Provisional Estimates for Selected Birth Indicators”and “Quarterly Provisional Estimates of Infant Mortality

Q: What findings in your new data analyses on births and infant mortality most surprised you and why?

LR:  These latest quarterly provisional estimates suggest that the steady decline in teen birth rates that we have seen over the past several years is continuing into 2017, which is good news. What is of concern is the recent uptick in preterm birth rates, a trend that emerged in 2015 and that has unfortunately continued into 2016 and early 2017.

Q: What is the difference between the Rapid Release provisional estimates on births released today and the report from your office released last month, “Births: Provisional Data for 2016”? And how are these two provisional data analyses different from your office’s “preliminary data” released in the recent past?

LR:  The most recent Quarterly Provisional Estimates provide an update to some of the data released in the recent report, Births: Provisional Data for 2016. That report is similar to previous “preliminary birth data” reports, but is redesigned and released under our Vital Statistics Rapid Release (VSRR) program. We hope that the VSRR program can be a one-stop-shop for our provisional vital statistics data. The Quarterly Provisional Estimates describe very recent trends in key indicators of maternal and infant health from the birth and mortality data the report, Births: Provisional Data for 2016, provides some critical context for understanding these recent trends.  report also describes some additional demographic and reproductive health indicators that aren’t yet available in the Quarterly Provisional Estimates, such as birth rates by race and Hispanic origin, as well as the timing of prenatal care.

Q: What in your data analyses can be attributed to no change in infant mortality in the last few quarters?

LR: is another surprising and concerning finding, because infant mortality rates have generally been declining over the past decade, at least through 2014. These declines seem to have leveled off more recently, according to our provisional estimates. We can’t speak to why infant mortality rates might no longer be declining, but we are planning future research to help us better understand this troubling trend.    

Q: What differences did you see among various age groups of mothers?

LR: There is a great deal of detail in the recent report, Births: Provisional Data for 2016, discussing how age-specific birth rates have changed recently. Generally, both that report and our recent Quarterly Provisional Estimates show that maternal age is increasing. Birth rates among younger women (under 30) are going down, while those among women 35 and up are increasing.

Q: What are seasonal fluctuations in the number of infant deaths and births, and what do you mean by accounting for seasonality as you described in your report’s preface?

LR: People may not think that there are seasonal patterns to births, but it turns out that there are more babies born in the third quarter of the year, from July-September, than during other parts of the year. There are seasonal patterns in other indicators as well. For example, preterm birth rates dip slightly in the third quarter compared with other quarters, while infant mortality rates tend to be a bit higher in the beginning of the year than toward the end of the year. So to ensure that any differences we find aren’t influenced by seasonal fluctuations, we only compare the most recent quarter with the same quarter from the previous year. We also present 12 month-ending estimates, which include all seasons of the year, and thus aren’t subject to seasonal ups and downs.


Births: Provisional Data for 2016

June 30, 2017

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.

Stat of the Day – June 26, 2017

June 26, 2017

Stat of the Day – May 18, 2017

May 18, 2017

New Preliminary 2016 Data on Births and Deaths in U.S.

May 17, 2017

The Vital Statistics Rapid Release program provides access to the timeliest vital statistics for public health surveillance, through 1) releases of Quarterly Provisional Estimates and 2) Special Reports based on a current flow of vital statistics data from state vital records offices.

Using the provisional data, NCHS produces much more timely estimates of important health indicators for public health practitioners, researchers, and health policy-makers than would be possible using final annual data.

State by State Health Data Source Updated on NCHS Web Site

April 19, 2017

CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics has updated its Stats of the States feature on the NCHS web site.  This resource features the latest state-by-state comparisons on key health indicators ranging from birth topics such as teen births and cesarean deliveries to leading causes of death and health insurance coverage.

Tabs have been added to the color-coded maps to compare trends on these topics between the most recent years (2015 and 2014) and going back a decade (2005) and in some cases further back.

To access the main “Stats of the States” page, use the following link:


Trends and Variations in Reproduction and Instrinsic Rates: United States, 1990-2014

February 22, 2017

Questions for Brady E. Hamilton, Ph.D., Demographer, Statistician, and Lead Author on “Trends and Variations in Reproduction and Intrinsic Rates: United States, 1990-2014

Q: Why did you conduct this study?

BH: We produced this report because we wanted to provide an updated analysis of fertility patterns in the United States. This report provides current detailed information on the fertility patterns for the United States, as measured by reproduction and intrinsic rates, which have not been available since the release of an earlier report more than a decade ago (https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr52/nvsr52_17.pdf). The new report focuses on the recent trends in these rates and also presents, for the first time, reproduction and intrinsic rates for the three largest population groups — non-Hispanic white, non-Hispanic black, and Hispanic.

Q: What is the difference between reproduction rates and intrinsic rates, and what can they tell us about population growth and change in the United States?

BH: The reproduction and intrinsic rates are important to understanding population growth and change in the United States and are useful additions to the annual birth and fertility rates (such as the crude birth rate and general fertility rate) published by NCHS. Unlike the annual birth and fertility rates which measure the fertility of women in a given year, the reproduction rates summarize the number of births expected for a (hypothetical) group of 1,000 women over their lifetime given their particular fertility and mortality rates. The reproduction rates can measure, for example, whether the number of births is at “replacement,” that is, the level at which a given group of women can exactly replace themselves. For example, the net reproduction rate in 2014 was 897 which means that given their fertility and mortality rates in 2014, we would expect to see 897 daughters born per 1,000 of these women, which is below replacement level (1,000 daughters). The reproduction rates can be used to compare populations over time or among different groups. The intrinsic rates summarize the birth, death, and rate of change of a population, which would be expected to prevail given particular fertility and mortality rates. These rates measure the change of a population, either growth or decline, and can be used to compare populations over time or among different groups. For example, the intrinsic rate of natural increase in 2014 was -3.7, which means that given the fertility and mortality rates in 2014, the population for the United States was declining. This measure excludes migration.

Q: Was there a result in your study’s analysis of reproduction and intrinsic rates in the United States that you hadn’t expected and that really surprised you?

BH: The pervasive and large declines in the rates among the race and Hispanic origin groups was quite striking. For the three largest groups — non-Hispanic white, non-Hispanic black, and Hispanic– the total fertility, gross reproduction, and net reproduction rates declined by at least 7% from 2006 through 2014. The Intrinsic rate of natural increase declined by at least 78% from 2006 through 2014 for the three groups.

Q: What differences, if any, did you see among race and ethnic groups?

BH: While the total fertility, gross reproduction, and net reproduction rates and intrinsic rate of natural increase declined for the three race and Hispanic origin groups, there were differences among the groups in the rate of decline and among the rates themselves. In general, the reproduction rates declined the least for non-Hispanic white women and the most for Hispanic women from 2006 through 2014. Similarly, in 2014, the reproduction rates were lowest for non-Hispanic white women and highest for Hispanic women. The intrinsic rates of natural increase differed, too, with the rate being negative for both the non-Hispanic white and non-Hispanic black population groups in 2014, but positive for the Hispanic population group.

Q: What is the take home message of this report?

BH: The take home message from the report is that reproduction rates and intrinsic rate of natural increase have declined overall from 1990 through 2014 and for the three largest race and Hispanic origin groups from 2006 through 2014. However, differences in the reproductive and intrinsic rates for the groups exist.