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Maternal Age

Narrative

In 2010, the birth rate among women aged 15–44 years was 64.1 births per 1,000—a decrease of 3 percent from 2009 and the lowest rate reported in over a decade.1 Although births and birth rates declined for women of all race and ethnic groups, Hispanic women continued to have the highest birth rate, followed by non-Hispanic Black women (80.2 and 66.6 births per 1,000 women aged 15–44 years, respectively). American Indian/Alaska Native women had the lowest birth rate (48.6 per 1,000 women aged 15–44 years). Between 2009 and 2010, the birth rate also declined in every age group except for 40–44 years, which increased 2 percent to the highest level since 1967 (10.2 births per 1,000 women).1 The birth rates among teenagers aged 15- 19 years and young women aged 20–24 years reached historic lows in 2010 (34.2 and 90.0 births per 1,000 women, respectively).

Overall, birth rates were highest among women aged 25–29 years (108.3 births per 1,000 women), followed by those aged 30–34 years (96.5 births per 1,000 women). However, age patterns vary by race/ethnicity. For Hispanic, non-Hispanic Black, and American Indian/Alaska Native women, birth rates were highest among 20- to 24-year-olds (126.1, 119.4, 91.0 births per 1,000 women, respectively), whereas birth rates were highest among 25- to 29-yearolds for non-Hispanic Whites (105.8 per 1,000) and among 30- to 34-year-olds for Asian/Pacific Islanders (113.6 per 1,000).

Demonstrating the trend toward delayed childbearing, average age at first birth rose 3.8 years between 1970 and 2010 to 25.4 years (data not shown in graph images or in data tables on this site).1,2 The proportion of first births to women aged 35 and older increased from just 1 percent in 1970 to 8.2 percent in 2010. Meanwhile, the proportion of first births to teenagers (under 20 years) dropped in half between 1970 and 2010, from 35.6 to 18.9 percent.

1 Martin JA, Hamilton BE, Ventura SJ, et al. Births: Final data for 2010. National vital statistics reports; vol 61 no 1. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2012.

2 Mathews TJ, Hamilton BE. Delayed childbearing: More women are having their first child later in life. NCHS data brief, no 21. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2009

Graphs

This image is described in the Data section.

birth distribution by age and race graph

This image is described in the Data section.

birth distribution by age and race graph

Data

Live Births per 1,000 Women by Age and Race/Ethnicity,* 2010
Age Group Live Births per 1,000
Total Non-Hispanic White Non-Hispanic Black Hispanic American Indian/Alaska Native* Asian/Pacific Islander*
*Includes Hispanics

Source: Martin, JA, Hamilton BE, Ventura SJ, Osterman, MK, Wilson, EC, Mathews, TJ. Births: Final data for 2010. National vital statistics reports; vol 61 no 1. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2012.
Total 64.1 58.7 66.6 80.2 48.6 59.2
15-19 Years 34.2 23.5 51.5 55.7 38.7 10.9
20-24 Years 90 74.9 119.4 126.1 91 42.6
25-29 Years 108.3 105.8 102.5 125.3 74.4 91.5
30-34 Years 96.5 99.9 73.6 96.6 48.4 113.6
35-39 Years 45.9 44.1 36.4 51.7 22.3 62.8
40-44 Years 10.2 9.2 9.2 13 5.2 15.1
Percent of First Births* by Age, 1970-2010
Year Percent of First Births
Under 20 years 20-34 years 35 and Older
*Percentages may not add to 100 due to rounding.

Sources: Martin, JA, Hamilton BE, Ventura SJ, Osterman, MK, Wilson, EC, Mathews, TJ. Births: Final data for 2010. National vital statistics reports; vol 61 no 1. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2012.
Mathews TJ, Hamilton BE. Delayed childbearing: More women are having their first child later in life. NCHS data brief, no 21. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2009
1970 35.6 63.4 1
1980 28.2 70.5 1.3
1990 23.8 71.7 4.5
2000 23.1 69.5 7.4
2010* 18.9 73 8.2