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.

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: Birth Rates Among Teens Aged 15–19 Years, by Race/Hispanic Ethnicity — National Vital Statistics System, United States, 2007 and 2015

August 19, 2016

From 2007 to 2015, the birth rate for female teens aged 15–19 years declined 46%, from 41.5 to 22.3 births per 1,000, the lowest rate ever recorded for this population in the United States.

In 2015, rates declined to record lows for all racial/ethnic populations, with declines ranging from 41% for non-Hispanic white teens to 54% for Hispanic teens.

Despite the declines, teen birth rates by race/Hispanic ethnicity continued to reflect wide disparities, with rates ranging from 6.9 per 1,000 for Asian or Pacific Islander teens to 34.9 for Hispanic teens in 2015.

National and State Patterns of Teen Births in the United States, 1940–2013

August 20, 2014

Teen childbearing in the United States has been declining for more than half a century. Except for a brief but steep increase in teen birth rates from 1986 to 1991 and smaller upturns during 1969–1970, 1979–1980, and 2005–2007, birth rates for U.S. teenagers have fallen since 1957. The birth rate in 2013, 26.6 births per 1,000 teenagers aged 15–19, was less than one-half of the rate in 1991 (61.8 per 1,000) and less than one-third of the rate in 1957 (96.3), when the United States rate was at its peak. The overall reductions in teen birth rates have been shared across all age groups, race and ethnicity groups, and states.

A new NCHS report presents trends from 1940 through 2013 in national birth rates for teenagers, with particular focus on the period since 1991. The percent changes in rates for 1991–2012 and
the for 2007–2012 are presented for the United States and for states. Preliminary data for 2013 are shown where available.

Key Findings from the Report:

  • Teen childbearing has been on a long-term downward trend, with only four exceptions since peaking in 1957. The rate in 1957 was 96.3 births per 1,000 women aged 15–19. The rate dropped almost one-third to 65.5 in 1969.
  • The rate then increased 4% in 1969–1970 (68.3) before resuming a decline that continued until 1979–1980 and again until 1986 (50.2). From 1986 through 1991, the birth rate rose 23%. Since 1991, the rate has fallen 57% and the decline has been continuous except for a 5% rise during 2005–2007.
  • The pace of decline accelerated from 2007 forward, with the rate reaching 26.6 per 1,000 in 2013, a drop of 36% from 2007.
  • The 2013 rate is less than one-third of the 1957 peak rate.


Teen Birth Rates Declining

May 23, 2013

A new report  from NCHS shows that teen birth rates fell steeply in the United States from 2007 through 2011, resuming a decline that began in 1991 but was briefly interrupted in 2006 and 2007. The overall rate declined 25% from 41.5 per 1,000 teenagers aged 15–19 in 2007 to 31.3 in 2011—a record low. The number of births to teenagers aged 15–19 also fell from 2007 to 2011, by 26% to 329,797 in 2011.

Births to teenagers are at elevated risk of low birthweight, preterm birth, and of dying in infancy compared with infants born to women aged 20 and over, and they are associated with significant public costs, estimated at $10.9 billion annually.  Recent trends by state and race and Hispanic origin are illustrated using the most current available data from the National Vital Statistics System.

For anyone interested in find getting a state-by-state ranking of teen birth rates and other health statistics please click here.

Key Findings from the Report:

  • Teen birth rates fell at least 15% for all but two states during 2007–2011—the most recent period of sustained decline; rates fell 30% or more in seven states.
  • Declines in rates were steepest for Hispanic teenagers, averaging 34% for the United States, followed by declines of 24% for non-Hispanic black teenagers and 20% for non-Hispanic white teenagers.
  • The long-term difference between birth rates for non-Hispanic black and Hispanic teenagers has essentially disappeared, and by 2011 their rates were similar.
  • Rates for Hispanic teenagers fell 40% or more in 22 states and the District of Columbia (DC); rates dropped at least 30% in 37 states and DC.

Percent change in birth rates for all teenagers aged 15–19, by state: United States, 2007 and 2011