Entries in Birth Rate (6)


US Birth Rate Plunges to Record Low

David De Lossy/Digital Vision(NEW YORK) -- The U.S. birth rate dropped last year to the lowest level since record keeping began in the 1920s, according to a report released Thursday by the Pew Research Center.

According to preliminary data, only 63 babies were born in 2011 for every 1,000 women of child bearing age (15 to 44).  By comparison, the highest level was in 1957 when 122 babies were born for every 1,000 women.

"It is very striking that the birth rate is the lowest on record.  It's hard to know whether this trend will continue into the future.  History tells us that it probably won't.  But it may be that we are seeing the new normal," says the report's co-author, D'Vera Cohn.

Between 2007 and 2010, Pew says the overall birth rate tumbled 8 percent.  While the rate of U.S.-born women during this time period fell 6 percent, the most striking decline was among immigrant women, Cohn says.

"They're down 14 percent which is more than double the decrease in the birth rate for women who are born in the United States," she notes.

The reason for the overall decline is closely linked to the recession, Cohn says.

"It really appears to have linked to the recession. We've done some research and looked into the link between birth declines and bad economic times and there's a pretty strong association," she says.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


After 30 Years, Unintended Birth Rate Still Almost 40 Percent

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- About 37 percent of births in the United States are the result of unintended pregnancies, a proportion that has remained fairly steady since 1982, according to new research from the National Center for Health Statistics, a branch of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The numbers are not surprising to many doctors and researchers, and many said it's discouraging that they have not improved in three decades.

"Trying to prevent unintended births is sort of an increasingly difficult task," said William Mosher, a statistician at NCHS and the study's lead author.

Researchers interviewed more than 12,000 women from 2006 to 2010 who had given birth to live babies.  Their findings showed changes in who is giving birth in the U.S., planned or not.  In 1982, white, married women accounted for 66 percent of births in the United States; today, that group accounts for 43 percent of total births.

But the findings also portrayed sharp demographic contrasts in women who have unintended pregnancies.

About 23 percent of married women had an unintended pregnancy, compared with 50 percent of unmarried women who were living with their baby's father and 67 percent of unmarried women not living with the baby's father.  Nearly 77 percent of teens' pregnancies were unintended, compared with 50 percent of women ages 20 to 24, and 25 percent of women ages 25 to 44.

Almost 17 percent of women with a college degree had unintended pregnancies, compared with 41 percent of women without a high school diploma.

Nearly 54 percent of black women reported an unintended pregnancy, compared with 43 percent of Hispanic women and about 31 percent of white women.

"These are staggering statistics," said Sheryl Kingsberg, a professor of reproductive biology and psychiatry at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland, who was not involved in the study.  "Here we are with various means of effective birth control at our fingertips, but it's not reaching the population that needs it the most."

Previous studies have found that about half of unintended births come from ineffective use of contraception -- not wearing a condom or inappropriately taking birth control pills, for example.  Others simply don't use contraception at all.

Some doctors say a lack of education about and access to contraception through the health care system are the prohibiting factors driving those behaviors for many women, especially teens and women with lower incomes and education.

In the current study, more than one-third of women who had unintended births reported that they didn't think they could get pregnant.  Mosher said that points to a serious sex education problem among American women.

"Basically what that suggests is that many women think that because they have not used a method and have not gotten pregnant in two or three or four acts of intercourse that they're sterile.  And of course, that's not how it works," he said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Twin Birth Rates Up Due to Increase in Fertility Treatments

Michel Tcherevkoff/Getty Images(EAST LANSING, Mich.) -- Seeing double when it comes to youngsters?  Your eyes aren’t playing on tricks on you.

A Michigan State University study confirms what you’ve being seeing: there are more twins being born now than ever before, largely because of women undergoing fertility treatments.

The rate of twins in 2009 was one in every 30 births.  That’s a sharp increase from thirty years earlier when it was one in every 53 babies born, which accounted then for two percent of all births.

Presenting her findings this week in Florence, Italy, at the 14th Congress of the International Society of Twin Studies, MSU researcher Barbara Luke says this dramatic rise in American twin births is increasing for all women, but mostly in those ages 30 and older.

Luke told the conference, “Older maternal age accounts for about one-third of the rise, and two-thirds is due to the increased use of fertility treatments."

The incidence of triplets is also on the increase, according to Luke.  It was one in 2,702 babies born in 1980, but the number of triplets has skyrocketed to one in 651 babies in 2009.

Currently, 12 percent of women in the U.S. undergo fertility therapies, but Luke warned that greater health risks result from multiple births.´╗┐

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Spike in Twins Tied to Fertility Treatments

Michel Tcherevkoff/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The twin birth rate among women age 35 to 39 has jumped by nearly 100 percent since 1980, and among women over age 40, the rate has increased more than 200 percent, a new government study finds.

Epidemiologist Joyce Martin is the lead author on the study, by the National Center for Health Statistics, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"Mothers of all ages and all races and from all parts of the country are having more twins," said Martin.

The study finds that from 1915 through the 1970's, the twin birth rate was stable, at about 2 percent of all births. By the early 1980's though, multiple births began to increase.

"The number of twins more than doubled between 1980 and 2009 and the twin birth rate rose by three-quarters or 76 percent," Martin said.

If the birth rate had not changed, 865,000 fewer twins would have been born in the U.S. in the last three decades.

Much of the increase can be linked to the success of infertility treatments, but not all. Authors say that women overall are waiting until they are older to have babies, and studies have found that hormonal changes in women over age 35 increase the chance of multiple births.

A 2006 study from the Netherlands found that older women had a higher level of a hormone which stimulates egg production in the ovaries. So older women were more likely to release more than one egg during their monthly cycle.

Still, the study found that, not surprisingly, two-thirds of the increase in twin births in the past few decades is linked to infertility treatment.

"The good news," said infertility expert Dr. Robert Stillman, is that there are a lot more kids out there from successful fertility therapies, and a lot of them are doing great. But he added, "The bad news is that twins are still complicated."

Twins are more likely to be born early and at a lower birth weight. Stillman, who is the medical director of Maryland's Shady Grove Fertility Reproductive Science Center, said 14 percent of twins are born very prematurely, compared with fewer than 2 percent of single births.

Stillman says as infertility treatment improves, the "goal is to eliminate twins." He added, "The triplet rate and the quadruplet rate has plummeted, and the twin rate is the next thing we have to attack."

There's evidence from the new government study that that's starting to happen. Researchers found that the rate of twin births is still increasing every year, but the annual increase has slowed since 2005.

Stillman says he's seen evidence of that at Shady Grove, the nation's busiest infertility center. In 2009, 21 percent of patients trying to get pregnant had a single embryo implanted. In 2010 that jumped to 37 percent, and he expects the 2011 percentage to be even higher.

So while the twin birth rate remains higher than ever, it's likely to level out in the years ahead.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Chinese Women Try to Bypass One-Child Policy with Pills for Twins 

Photodisc/Thinkstock(GUANGZHOU, China) -- Women in southern China are trying to circumvent the country's one-child policy by using fertility drugs to have multiple births, according to reports in local newspapers, in the latest sign of growing opposition to the country's birth control strategy.

"Experts are deeply concerned about the rapidly increasing birth rate of twins," read the Yangzhou Evening News.

"Some private hospitals are trying to lure customers by claiming that they can help them have twins," accused the Guangzhou Daily.

According to the Guangzhou Daily investigation, some private hospitals in Guangdong province are providing healthy, fertile women with infertility medicines, such as clomifene citrate, to stimulate ovulation and increase the chance of having twins or triplets.

The pills, dubbed "multiple baby pills" in Chinese, are taken orally and are only supposed to be available by prescription. According to Chinese fertility specialists, 20 to 30 percent of women who take the drugs have multiple births.

When not taken in the proper dosage the drugs can cause serious side effects, doctors warn.

There are no official statistics available on multiple births in China, but the Yangzhou Evening News pointed to Dr. Zhang's hospital as an example. The hospital had 24 twin births out of 1,600 mothers last year, which the newspaper called, "a proportion of twins born beyond the laws of nature."

In fact, 24 twins for 1,600 mothers amounts to a 1.5 percent birth rate, a small increase on the natural occurrence of twins in China which is 1.1 percent. In 2008, the U.S.'s twin birth rate was 3.25 percent, in part because of the country's use of fertility procedures such as in-vitro fertilization.

ABC News contacted three fertility hospitals in Guangzhou to see if any would prescribe the drugs for a healthy, fertile couple who wanted twins. Of those, one was willing to help.

"No formal hospital would provide this service, because it's not part of the regular medical treatment," the customer service personnel at Guangzhou Yikan Infertility Treatment Center said. "But if a couple insists that they want to have twins by artificial means, we can do this if they meet the requirements."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


CDC Reports Biggest Birth Rate Drop in 30 Years

David De Lossy/Digital Vision(WASHINGTON) -- There has been a four percent drop in births in the U.S. from 2007 to 2009 -- the largest two-year decline in 30 years, according to a report released Thursday from the Center for Disease and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics.

"Certainly the economy and war have been two of the biggest influences on birth rate historically," said Paul Sutton, statistician and lead author of the report.

The number of births in the United States reached an all-time high of 4,316,233 in 2007. The subsequent decline, which shows no sign of leveling off, mirrors the country's ongoing economic crisis -- an observation consistent with other recessions.

"The two-year decline was notable, but not truly of historic proportions when compared with the large, extended fertility declines in the early 20th century and in the 1960s and early 1970s," the authors wrote.

After the Great Depression of the 1930s, the biggest drop in birth rate followed the post World War Two baby boom -- the so-called baby bust of the'60s and '70s.

The CDC report released Thursday breaks down birth data by maternal age, race and geographical location. And not surprisingly, the biggest drop occurred in states hit hardest by the recession, including Florida, Arizona and California.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio´╗┐

ABC News Radio