Everything Pregnancy

U.S. Fertility Rate Just Hit a Historic Low -- Here's What You Need to Know

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released info that the birth rate dropped in 2016, but it's not necessarily cause for concern.

New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that the U.S. birth rate fell in 2016, hitting a new all-time low. Some reports are interpreting this data as concerning and potentially affecting the country's population and ultimately, workforce and economy.

Still, the overall decline had much to do with the fact that teen births are down. In fact, the birth rate for women aged 15 to 19 declined 9% in 2016. At the same time, the birth rate declined for women in their 20s, but went up for women in their 30s and 40s.

This marks the first time ever that women in their 30s are having more kids than women in their women in their 20s. Right now the highest birth rate is actually among women aged 30 to 34, with the 25- to 29-year-old group barely behind. 

Meanwhile, for moms aged 40-44, the birth rate is up 4% from 2015, the highest rate for the age group since 1966. And for women aged 45-49, the birth rate increased to 0.9 births per 1,000 women, up from 0.8 in 2015, which is the highest rate for this demographic since 1963.

Also of note: The cesarean delivery rate declined for the fourth year in a row to nearly 32%.

All in all, the number of births in 2016 was 1% lower in 2016 than in 2015, bringing the fertility rate to 62 births per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44. But given that these numbers seem to ebb and flow over time, it'll be interesting to see if this is a trend that continues. Looking at the specifics—such as the declining teen birth rate and rising rate for moms in their 30s— definitely makes the news seem like less a cause for concern. Instead, the data may simply show women are taking advantage of various family planning options, at any age.