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U.S. birth rates back on the rise

December 22, 2009 | 12:40 pm
teen pregnancy pediatrics newborn baby U.S. birth rates death rates life expectancy Birth rates are climbing after years of significant declines, according to an annual report released Monday in the journal Pediatrics.

Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that the number of U.S. births for 2007 had jumped 1% to 4,317,119, "the highest number ever registered for the United States," they said. Almost 1.9 million people joined the population due to "natural increase," which is basically the net birth rate. 

As the birth rate rose, the age-adjusted death rate also dropped 2.1%, another record low for the U.S. Life expectancy at birth reached a record high of 77.9 years.

One shocker: The United States' infant death rate is 6.83 per 1,000 births. Compare that with Malaysia (6.2) or Korea (3.8). And in the U.S. capital, the District of Columbia? It's nearly double the national rate, at 12.22.

Younger mothers, particular adolescents, pushed the birth rate higher. From 1991 through 2005, teen birth rates dropped 34%. Since 2005, though, they've popped back up 5%. "The recent increase was preceded by the slowing decline but, nonetheless, caught the public and the public health community somewhat by surprise," the study said.

In terms of teen-pregnancy prevention, the study's authors conclude, "it could be that new messages and strategies are needed to reach the teenagers of today."

-- Amina Khan

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