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With New CDC Stat, a US 'Baby Bust' Continues

Births in America fell about 1% from 2018, leading to fewest number of newborns in 35 years
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 20, 2020 8:24 AM CDT

(Newser) – US births continued to fall last year, leading to the fewest number of newborns in 35 years. The decline is the latest sign of a prolonged national "baby bust" that's been going on for more than a decade, the AP notes. Some experts believe the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on the economy will suppress the numbers further. "This unpredictable environment, and anxiety about the future, is going to make women think twice about having children," said Dr. Denise Jamieson, chair of obstetrics and gynecology at Emory University. The latest numbers were released Wednesday by the CDC. The report, which is considered preliminary, is based on a review of more than 99% of the birth certificates issued last year. The CDC found the number of births fell about 1% from 2018, to about 3.7 million. Birth rates continued to fall for teen moms and for women in their 20s.

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Aside from a one-year uptick in 2014, US births have been falling every year since 2007, as the Great Recession hit. Chief among the causes cited by experts are shifting attitudes on motherhood: Many women and couples delay childbearing and have fewer kids. The economy is also a factor, as many jobs are low-paying and unstable; coupled with high rent, these and other factors have caused people to be more cautious about having kids, said Dr. John Santelli, a Columbia University family health professor. The impact of the last few months' events on births won't become clear until late this year or early next, he said. While some say it's more likely birth rates will fall, it's possible births will go up, at least among some groups. Access to birth control and abortion has become more difficult, and some homebound couples may find themselves with greater opportunity to conceive, Santelli said.

(Read more birth rate stories.)

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