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

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Maternal Age

According to preliminary data, the general fertility rate fell slightly to 68.7 live births per 1,000 women aged 15–44 years in 2008 (from a rate of 69.5 in 2007). Birth rates for nearly every age and racial/ethnic group also declined. The rate for teenagers aged 15–19 years decreased to 41.5 per 1,000 females in this age group, which continues the general decline in teenage birthrates since 1991, when the rate was 61.8 births per 1,000. Although the birth rate for women aged 25–29 years fell in 2008, this group still experienced the highest birth rate of all age groups (115.1 births per 1,000). This was followed by women aged 20–24 years (103.1 births per 1,000). Birth rates for women aged 30–34 (99.3 births per 1,000) and 35–39 years (46.9 births per 1,000) also declined slightly; the previous year saw the highest reported rates in over four decades for these age groups. Birth rates for women aged 40–44 years (9.9 births per 1,000) and 45–49 years (0.7 births per 1,000) increased slightly over the previous year.

In 2008, 3.3 percent of births were to females under 18 years of age, and another 7.0 percent were to teens aged 18–19 years. Just under one-quarter (24.8 percent) of births occurred among young adults aged 20–24 years, while 28.2 percent were to women aged 25–29 years and 22.5 percent were to women aged 30– 34 years. Another 11.5 percent of births were to women aged 35–39 years, and the remaining 2.7 percent of births were to women aged 40 and over. Average age at first birth fell to 25.0 years in 2006 (the latest year for which data are available), the first such decline since the measure became available in 1968 (data not shown).

The age distribution of births varies by race/ ethnicity. Among non-Hispanic Black and Hispanic women, 17.1 percent and 14.1 percent of births, respectively, were to teenagers, compared to 7.4 percent of births to non-Hispanic White females. The percentage of births to young adults aged 20–24 years was higher among non- Hispanic Black and Hispanic women (31.8 percent and 28.2 percent, respectively) than among non-Hispanic White women (22.5 percent). However, births to women aged 35 and older represented a higher proportion of births among non-Hispanic White women than among non- Hispanic Black and Hispanic women.

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