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U.S. birth rates decline to lowest level since 1979, CDC reports

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  • Staff Report 

U.S. birth rates fell last year, continuing a long-term decline, with just under 3.6 million babies born in 2023, the lowest since 1979, according to provisional data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This marked a decrease of about 76,000 births compared to the previous year, reversing a brief uptick that followed the initial COVID-19 outbreak.

Experts noted that the birth rates decreased across almost all age groups under 40 and were stable for women in their 40s. This widespread decline was unexpected, as birth rates had previously been rising for older women, reflecting trends of delaying childbirth for education and career development. Nicholas Mark, a researcher at the University of Wisconsin, expressed surprise at the data, suggesting factors beyond mere postponement of childbirth might be contributing to the decline.

The CDC’s Brady Hamilton, who authored the report, cautioned that while the numbers are provisional, the decline is significant and unlikely to be offset by final adjustments. The report also indicated that changes in U.S. birth rates might not have been significantly impacted by the 2022 Supreme Court decision affecting abortion access, although state-specific analyses were not performed. The data continues to show a concerning stagnation in teen birth rates, highlighting potential issues in youth reproductive health education and services.

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