A federal report released this week showed a decline in birth rates among U.S. women.  Younger women--teenagers and women in their early '20s--showed the greatest decline, a 9 percent drop among teens alone since 2009.

Experts hypothesize that the drop in birth rates is related to the economic downturn, which has left many families concerned with their ability to provide financially for their futures.  Young women are especially vulnerable to feeling they cannot afford to have a child or add to their families.

"I don't think there's any doubt now that it was the recession. It could not be anything else," Carl Haub, a demographer with the Population Reference Bureau, a Washington, D.C.-based research organization, told The Associated Press.

The report contained other findings, including:

  • The cesarean section rate declined slightly since 2009, coming in at 32.8 percent of all 2010 births.  This follows more than a decade of steady increases in c-section rates.
  • The total fertility rate for U.S. women also declined, with the average number of children a woman is expected to have dipping from 2.1 to 1.9.
  • Hispanic women's total fertility rate had a sharper decline, dipping from nearly 3 to 2.4.