There were just over 4 million births in the United States in 2003, which is slightly higher than the number of births in 2002. This is reflected in the birth rate, which increased from 13.9 births per 1,000 population in 2002 to 14.1 births per 1,000 in 2003. The number of births rose in nearly all racial and ethnic groups, from 1 percent among non-Hispanic White and American Indian women to 4 percent among Hispanic women and 5 percent among Asian and Pacific Islander women. The only exception to this trend was among non-Hispanic Black women, whose births decreased by less than 1 percent between 2002 and 2003.The birth rate among teenagers also reached a record low in 2003. The birth rate for teens aged 10 to 14 years dropped to 0.6 births per 1,000 females from 0.7 in 2002, and the rate for those 15 to 19 years dropped from 43.0 per 1,000 in 2002 to 41.7 in 2003. As with the total number of births, there are considerable differences in teenage birth rates by race/ethnicity. In 2003, birth rates for teenagers ages 15-19 ranged from a low of 17.6 per 1,000 Asian or Pacific Islander females to a high of 82.2 per 1,000 Hispanic females.

Of the 4 million babies born in 2003, approximately 71.4 percent were born via vaginal delivery and 27.6 percent by cesarean (for the remainder, the method of delivery was not stated). This represents an increase in the cesarean delivery rate from 2002, when 26.1 percent of births were via cesarean. However, among women who had a previous cesarean, 90.4 percent had a repeat cesarean, and only 10.6 percent had a vaginal birth. Only 19.1 percent of women without a previous cesarean gave birth via cesarean in 2003.

Graph: Birth Rates by Age and Race/Ethnicity of Mother[d]

Graph: Live Births by Method of Delivery[d]