Births: Final Data for 2015

January 5, 2017

Questions for Joyce A. Martin, M.P.H., Demographer, Statistician, and Lead Author on “Births: Final Data for 2015

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

JM: Although small, (from 9.57% to 9.63%) the rise in the preterm birth rate (births of less than 37 completed weeks of gestation) was unexpected. This rate had been declining steadily since 2007.

Also of note is the decline in the triplet and higher-order multiple birth rate, down 9% from 2014 to 2015, and a decrease of 46% since 1998. The year 2015 also is the third straight year of declines in the rate of cesarean delivery (rate of 32.0% in 2015).

The continued, large decline in the teen birth rate (down 8% from 2014 to 2015) was also somewhat surprising, although not unprecedented. From 2007 through 2014, the teen birth rates had declined 7% annually.

Q: What is the difference between this new births report and the other reports your office produced on 2015 birth data, like the preliminary data report on 2015 births and the Data Brief on teen births?

JM: The annual report “Births: Final Data for 2015” offers substantially more detail (e.g., age, race and Hispanic origin of mother, state) on key topics, than does the report on preliminary birth statistics (“Births: Preliminary Data for 2015”). The final report also includes information on topics not included in the preliminary reports such as multiple births, attendant and place of birth, birth order and birth rates for fathers.

Q: How has the number of births in the United States changed in 2015 from previous years?

JM: The number of births in the United States declined slightly in 2015 (by 9,579 births to 3,978,497) from 2014. The decline for 2015 followed an increase in births for 2014, which was the first increase since 2007.

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

JM: Of continued concern are the higher risks of poor birth outcomes as measured by levels of preterm birth and low birthweight among non-Hispanic black mothers compared with total births and other race and Hispanic origin groups. For example, in 2015 the preterm birth rate for births to non-Hispanic black mothers was more than 50% higher at 13.41% than for non-Hispanic white women (8.88%) and nearly 50% higher than the rate for births to Hispanic mothers (9.14%).

Q: Did you observe any regional or state differences in this study on births?

JM: Differences by state were observed for many of the demographic and medical/health items included in the 2015 final birth report. For example, from 2014 to 2015, the general fertility rate–which is the number of births per 1,000 women aged 15–44–declined in eight states and was essentially unchanged in the 42 states and the District of Columbia (DC). In 2015, the general fertility rate ranged among states from 51.1 births per 1,000 women aged 15–44 in Vermont to 78.2 in South Dakota.

Also, increases in preterm birth rates were limited to four states from 2014 to 2015: Arkansas, California, Nebraska, and North Carolina. Rates declined in four states: Montana, New York, Texas and Wyoming. Nonsignificant differences were reported for the remaining states and DC.

Provisional Estimates of Birth Data for 2014 through the Second Quarter of 2016

November 22, 2016

NCHS has released provisional estimates of selected reproductive indicators from birth data for 2014 through the second quarter of 2016. Estimates for 2014 and 2015 are based on final data.

The estimates for the first and second quarter of 2016 are based on all birth records received and processed by NCHS as of August 28, 2016.

Estimates are presented for: general fertility rates, age-specific birth rates, total and low risk cesarean delivery rates, preterm birth rates and other gestational age categories. These indicators were selected based on their importance for public health surveillance as well as the feasibility of producing reliable estimates using available provisional data. Future quarterly releases will include additional birth indicators from natality data.

Quarterly estimates are compared with estimates for the same quarter of the preceding year; for example, the second quarter of 2016 is compared with the second quarter of 2015. For comparability with rates for 12-month periods, the quarterly (3-month) rates have been annualized to present births per year per 1,000 population that would be expected if the quarter-specific rate prevailed for 12 months.

In addition, the rates and percentages for a 12-month period ending with each quarter (i.e., 12-month moving average) are presented to account for seasonality. Estimates for the 12-month period ending with the fourth quarter in each year can be interpreted as an annual provisional estimate for that year.




Teen Birth Rates for Urban and Rural Areas in the United States, 2007–2015

November 16, 2016

Questions for Brady Hamilton, Statistician and Lead Author of “Teen Birth Rates for Urban and Rural Areas in the United States, 2007–2015

Q: Are teen birth rates in the U.S. higher in urban areas or rural areas?

BH: The birth rate for teenagers is higher in rural areas than in urban areas. In 2015, the rate was 30.9 births per 1,000 females aged 15-19 for rural areas compared with 20.9 for urban areas. This difference persisted over the duration of the study, from 2007 through 2015, and was seen in the teen birth rates for non-Hispanic white, non-Hispanic black, and Hispanic females.

Q: What explains the differences or similarities in the two areas?

BH: The data on which the report is based comes from the birth certificates filed in all states and DC. While the data from the birth certificate provide detailed information on a number of topics, this report did not examine reasons for urban/rural differences, as information on many contributing factors is not available from the birth certificate.

However, the report shows that while the birth rate for teenagers is higher in rural areas than in urban areas, birth rates for all areas declined from 2007 through 2015, down 50% in large urban, 44% in medium and small urban, and 37% in rural areas.

Q: What were some of the regional differences you observed in teen birth rates in urban or rural areas?

BH: The urban teen birth rate declined for all states and DC between 2007 and 2015, with declines ranging from 24% for teens in North Dakota to 57% for teens in Arizona, whereas the rural teen birth rate declined for in nearly all states, with declines ranging from 18% for teens in Alaska to 73% for teens in Connecticut.

Among the urban areas, states with the largest declines (50% or more in the teen birth rate) include: Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, and Virginia.

Among the rural areas, states with the largest declines (50% or more in the teen birth rate) include: Colorado and Connecticut.

Q: Are there any data which suggests sexual activity among teens is higher in urban vs. rural areas – or vice versa?

BH: As noted, information is not available from the birth certificate on the attitudes and behavior of the parents associated with fertility and family formation.

Q: What are the differences in teen birth rates among race/ethnic groups and are there different patterns among these groups depending on whether they live in urban or rural areas?

BH: Teen birth rates for non-Hispanic white, non-Hispanic black, and Hispanic females were highest in rural counties and lowest in large urban areas in 2015.

For each area, the teen birth rate was consistently highest for Hispanic females and consistently lowest for non-Hispanic white females.

The difference in the teen birth rate between rural and large urban areas was lowest for non-Hispanic black females and greatest for non-Hispanic white females.

Q: Which U.S. counties have the highest teen birth rate and which counties have the lowest?

A: Teen birth rates are not available for individual counties in the report. Counties are grouped into areas according to their urban or rural designation and the teen birth rate was reported for an area based on the aggregated data of the counties for the area.

QuickStats: Gestational Weight Gain Among Women with Full-Term, Singleton Births, Compared with Recommendations — 48 States and the District of Columbia, 2015

October 14, 2016

Gestational weight gain was within the recommended range for 32% of women giving birth to full-term, singleton infants in 2015, with 48% gaining more weight and 21% less weight than recommended.

Approximately 44% of women who were underweight before pregnancy gained within the recommendations, compared with 39% of women who were normal weight, 26% of women who were overweight, and 24% of women with obesity before pregnancy.

Weight gain above the recommendations was highest among women who were overweight (61%) or had obesity (55%) before pregnancy.


Birth Expectations of U.S. Women Aged 15–44

October 13, 2016

Questions for Jill Daugherty and Gladys Martinez, Health Statisticians and Lead Authors on “Birth Expectations of U.S. Women Aged 15–44

Q: There is a perception that fewer women are interested in having children compared with in the past. Does your study reflect that?

JD GM: No, our data do not support this perception. In 2013-2015, 50% of women aged 15-44 expected to have a child in the future. This percentage has significantly increased from 46% of women, seen in 2002.

Q: What was the most surprising finding in your study?

JD GM: There were a couple of findings in our study that went somewhat against expectations based on prior research:

  • Among currently cohabiting women, 16% expected to have a child within 2 years which is similar to the 19% seen for currently married women. Both of these groups were more likely to expect to have a child within 2 years than were never married, non-cohabiting women (5%).
  • Among women with no children, 22% did not expect to have a child in the future, and among women who already had one child , nearly one-half (48%) did not expect to have another. These percentages are perhaps a bit higher than what might be expected based on other data that show the percentage of all women who eventually have on average two children.

Q: Are there economic factors related to birth expectations for women?

JD GM: This data brief did not examine economic factors related to birth expectations for women. Previous reports using NSFG data have looked at birth expectations by poverty status (, and this type of analysis could be done again using the 2013-2015 public use data. However, in this data brief we did examine how age and number of biological children was associated with women’s birth expectations. In general, we found that younger women and women with no biological children were more likely to expect to have children in the future than older women and women who already have biological children.

Q: What are the differences, if any, among race-ethnic groups as far as birth expectations?

JD GM: This data brief did not examine differences between racial and ethnic groups in birth expectations. Previous reports have look at differences by race-ethnicity (, and again this type of analysis could be done using the 2013-2015 public use data.

Q: Are there similar data available about birth expectations among men?

JD GM: Although the NSFG collects similar data among men, we did not include data on men in this brief report. These data are part of our public use data files that were released on October 13, 2016.

Continued Declines in Teen Births in the United States, 2015

September 28, 2016

The birth rate for teenagers aged 15–19 has fallen almost continuously since 1991, reaching historic lows for the nation every year since 2009.

Despite declines in all racial and ethnic groups, teen birth rates continue to vary considerably by race and ethnicity. Moreover, the U.S. teen birth rate remains higher than in other industrialized countries.

Childbearing by teenagers continues to be a matter of public concern.

A new report presents the recent and long-term trends and disparity in teen childbearing by race and Hispanic origin.


  • The teen birth rate declined to another historic low for the United States in 2015, down 8% from 2014 to 22.3 births per 1,000 females aged 15–19.
  • The birth rates for teenagers aged 15–17 and 18–19 declined in 2015 to 9.9 and 40.7, respectively, which are record lows for both groups.
  • In 2015, birth rates declined to 6.9 for Asian or Pacific Islander, 16.0 for non-Hispanic white, 25.7 for American Indian or Alaska Native, 31.8 for non-Hispanic black, and 34.9 for Hispanic female teenagers aged 15–19.
  • Birth rates fell to record lows for nearly all race and Hispanic-origin groups of females aged 15–19, 15–17, and 18–19 in 2015.

Births in the United States, 2015

September 19, 2016

An NCHS report presents several key demographic and maternal and infant health indicators using 2015 final birth data.

Trends in general fertility rates, age-specific birth rates, cesarean and low-risk cesarean delivery, and preterm birth rates are presented.


  • There were 3.978 million births in the United States in 2015, down less than 1% from 2014.
  • The 2015 U.S. general fertility rate (births per 1,000 women aged 15–44) was down 1% from 2014.
  • Birth rates dropped in 2015 to record lows among women under age 30 and rose for those aged 30–44.
  • The cesarean delivery rate declined to 32.0% of births in 2015; the preterm birth rate rose slightly to 9.63% from 2014 to 2015.