Live Births

According to preliminary data, there were 4.3 million births in the United States in 2006, which represents an increase of 3 percent from the previous year, the largest single-year increase since 1989. The number of births rose in every racial and ethnic group, most noticeably among non-Hispanic Black women and American Indian/Alaska Native women. Overall, the birth rate was 14.2 per 1,000 population.

With regard to age, overall birth rates were highest among those aged 25–29 years (116.8 per 1,000), followed by those aged 20–24 years (105.9 per 1,000). The birth rate for non-Hispanic Whites was highest in the 25–29 age group (109.2 per 1,000), while the rates for non-Hispanic Blacks, Hispanics, and American Indian/Alaska Natives were highest in the 20–24 age group (133.1, 177.0, and 114.9 per 1,000, respectively). The birth rate among Asian/Pacific Islanders was highest among 30- to 34-year-olds (116.5 per 1,000).

The percentage of births with a cesarean delivery has been increasing steadily since 1996, while vaginal births after a previous cesarean (VBAC) have been decreasing. Among all births in 2005, more than 30 percent were delivered by cesarean, representing a 46 percent increase since 1996. Only 7.9 percent of women with a previous cesarean delivery had a vaginal birth in 2005, compared to a high of 28.3 percent in 1996, a decrease of 72 percent. This trend is maintained even when considering only low-risk women.1 Additionally, induction of labor has increased substantially since 1990. Nearly 23 percent of singleton births were induced in 2005, which is nearly 2.5 times the percentage in 1990 (9.6 percent).

In 2005, 83.9 percent of women received prenatal care during the first trimester of pregnancy, while 3.5 percent of women received care in the third trimester or not at all.2

1 A low-risk woman is defined as one with a full-term (at least 37 completed weeks of gestation), singleton (not a multiple pregnancy), and vertex fetus (head facing in a downward position in the birth canal).
2 In the 37 reporting areas (including New York City and Washington, DC) using the 1989 Standard Certificate of Live Birth (unrevised).

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