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Live Births and Delivery Type

Narrative

According to preliminary data, there were 4.1 million live births in the United States in 2009 and the crude birth rate was 13.5 births per 1,000 total population, a decrease of 4 percent from 2008. Hispanic women continued to have the highest fertility rate (93.3 births per 1,000 women aged 15–44 years) in 2009, followed by non-Hispanic Black and Asian/Pacific Islander women (68.9 and 68.7 per 1,000 women aged 15–44 years, respectively) despite decreases in the number of births within each of those groups. Non-Hispanic White women had the lowest birth rate (58.5 per 1,000 women aged 15–44 years).

With regard to age, overall birth rates were highest among mothers aged 25–29 years (110.5 live births per 1,000 women), followed by those aged 30–34 years (97.7 births per 1,000 women). Between 2008 and 2009, the birth rate declined in every age group presented except for mothers aged 40–44 years. The birth rate for non-Hispanic White women was highest among 25- to 29-year-olds (102.6 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 (123.8, 151.2, and 109.1 per 1,000 women, respectively). The birth rate among Asian/Pacific Islanders was highest among 30- to 34-year-olds (123.3 per 1,000 women).

The proportion of births delivered by cesarean section has steadily increased since 1996. Among all births in 2008, nearly one-third (32.3 percent) were delivered by cesarean section, compared to about one-fifth of births in 1996 (20.7 percent). Preliminary data for 2009 indicate that this trend is continuing, with 32.9 percent of births delivered by cesarean section, an increase of almost 60 percent since 1996.1 This far exceeds the World Health Organization’s recommended upper limit of 15 percent of births.2 Induction of labor has also increased more than 140 percent since 1990, from 9.5 percent in 1990 to 23.1 percent in 2008.

1 Hamilton BE, Martin JA, Ventura SJ. Births: Preliminary data for 2009. National vital statistics reports web release; vol 59 no 3. Hyattsville, Maryland: National Center for Health Statistics. 2010.
2 World Health Organization. Monitoring Emergency Obstetric Care: A Handbook. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization Press. 2009.

Graphs

Data

Live Births per 1,000 Women, by Age and Race/Ethnicity 2009*
Age Group Live Births per 1,000 Women
Non-Hispanic White Non-Hispanic Black Hispanic American Indian/Alaska Native ** Asian/Pacific Islander** Total
*Data are preliminary.
**Includes Hispanics.
Sources: Hamilton BE, Martin JA, Sutton PD, Ventura SJ, Mathews TJ, Osterman, MJK. Births: Final Data for 2008. National vital statistics reports: vol 59 no 1. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2010; Hamilton BE, Martin JA, Sutton PD, Ventura SJ, Menacker F, Kirmeyer S. Births: Final Data for 2004. National vital statistics reports: vol 55 no 1. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2006. Accessed 02/22/11.
Total 58.5 68.9 93.3 62.8 68.7 66.7
15-19 Years 25.6 59.0 70.1 55.5 14.6 39.1
20-24 Years 76.7 123.8 151.2 109.1 57.5 96.3
25-29 Years 102.6 101.9 145.0 90.8 110.5 110.5
30-34 Years 97.4 73.2 108.2 63.8 123.3 97.7
35-39 Years 43.9 36.5 56.1 29.0 68.1 46.6
40-44 Years 9.0 9.0 14.0 6.5 15.8 10.1
Births Involving Cesarean Section and Induction of Labor, 1990–2008
Year Percent of Live Births
Cesarean Section Induction of Labor
Sources: Hamilton BE, Martin JA, Sutton PD, Ventura SJ, Mathews TJ, Osterman, MJK. Births: Final Data for 2008. National vital statistics reports: vol 59 no 1. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2010; Hamilton BE, Martin JA, Sutton PD, Ventura SJ, Menacker F, Kirmeyer S. Births: Final Data for 2004. National vital statistics reports: vol 55 no 1. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2006. Accessed 02/22/11.
1990 22.7 9.5
2008 32.3 23.1

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