U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration

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Live Births

According to preliminary data, there were nearly 4.3 million live births in the United States in 2008, a decrease of 2 percent from the previous year. Overall, the crude birth rate was 14.0 births per 1,000 total population (data not shown). Hispanic women continued to have the highest birth rate in 2008 (98.6 per 1,000 women), followed by Asian/Pacific Islander and non-Hispanic Black women (71.4 and 71.2 per 1,000 women, respectively) despite decreases in the number of births within each of those groups. Non-Hispanic White women had the lowest birth rate (59.6 per 1,000 women).

With regard to age, overall birth rates were highest among mothers aged 25–29 years (115.1 live births per 1,000 women), followed by those aged 20–24 years (103.1 births per 1,000 women). The birth rate for non-Hispanic White women was highest among 25- to 29-year-olds (106.2 per 1,000), while the birth rates for non-Hispanic Blacks, Hispanics, and American Indian/Alaska Natives were highest among 20- to 24-year-olds (130.8, 170.4, and 115.6 per 1,000 women, respectively). The birth rate among Asian/Pacific Islanders was highest among 30- to 34-year-olds (126.8 per 1,000 women).

The proportion of births delivered by cesarean section has steadily increased since 1996. Among all births in 2007 (the latest year for which data are available), nearly one-third (31.8 percent) were delivered by cesarean section, a 53 percent increase since 1996, when only about one-fifth of births were delivered in this manner (20.7 percent). Additionally, induction of labor has increased more than 135 percent since 1990, from 9.5 percent in 1990 to 22.8 percent in 2007.


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