Drop in U.S. birth rate is the biggest in 30 years

The maternity business has experienced a recession, too, it appears. Births fell 4% from 2007 to 2009, the biggest drop for any two-year period since the mid-1970s, according to federal government data released Thursday.

The rate, 66.7 births per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44, isn’t the lowest in recent memory. The 1997 rate was an all-time low of 63.6. But the authors of the report say preliminary data show the birth rate continued falling through the first half of 2010.

The report found:

  • Birth rates fell for all women except those 40 and older.
  • The birth rate for women ages 20 to 24 was the lowest ever recorded for that age group: 96.3 per 1,000. That’s a 9% drop from 2007 to 2009.
  • Among ethnic groups, the biggest drop was seen in Latino women, a 9% decline.
  • Birth rates fell the most in the West and Southwest. Arizona and Nevada saw a decline of 10% or more.
  • Fewer families are having more than two children. Almost 75% of births in 2009 were first or second births.

The report was released by the National Center for Health Statistics.

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