Birthrates

The National Center for Health Statistics, which compiles and publishes monthly and annual statistics on births, deaths, and marriages in the United States, distinguishes between the birthrate and the fertility rate in a population. The birthrate is the number of births per 1,000 total population during a specified time period (usually a year), whereas thefertility rate is the number of births per 1,000 women aged 15-44 years. The crude birthrate is the number of births per 1,000 population, and the age-specific birthrate is the crude birthrate computed on a designated chronological age group.

The overall birthrate in the United States has declined fairly steadily during this century. An exception to the trend was the decade from 19471957, known as the postwar baby-boom years. In 1995, the crude birthrate was 14.8 and the fertility rate was 65.6. Of course, birthrates vary with the age

Mother's Age

Figure 7-1 Birthrate by age and ethnicity of mother. (Based on data from Ventura, Martin, Curtin, & Matthews, 1997.)

Mother's Age

Figure 7-1 Birthrate by age and ethnicity of mother. (Based on data from Ventura, Martin, Curtin, & Matthews, 1997.)

group of women. Figure 7-1 shows that in 1995, the age-specific birthrate for all ethnic groups combined rose from 1.3 for women aged 10-14years to 112.4 for women aged 25-29 years, and fell to .3 for women aged 45-49 years. Approximately 42% of these births were a first child, 32% were a second child, 16% were a third child, and 10% were a fourth child and over.

The birthrate varies not only with age, but also with ethnicity, nationality, and other demographic factors. Of the five ethnic groups represented in Figure 7-1, the maximum birthrate was higher and occurred at an earlier age for Hispanics, Native Americans 1, and Blacks than for Asian/Pacific Islanders and Whites (Rosenberg et al., 1996). International data indicate that the average number of children born to a woman in her lifetime varies with the continent and country, estimated in 1996 as ranging from a high of 5.7 for the African continent to a low of 1.5 for Europe (see Figure 7-2). Not surprisingly, the fertility rate is inversely related to the number of women using contraceptives.

Within the United States, the highest birthrate in 1995 was in Utah, and the lowest was in Maine. Over 13% of the mothers of newborn babies were

•Includes Aleuts and Eskimos.

Africa

North America

Latin America

Asia

Europe

Oceania

Africa

North America

Latin America

Asia

Europe

Oceania

6 5 4 3 2 1 0 20 40 60 80 Fertility Rate Percent Contraception

Figure 7-2 Fertility rate and percentage of women using contraception by continent. Fertility rate is the average number of children born to a woman in her lifetime at the current birthrate. Percent contraception is the total percentage of married women using contraception. (Based on data from Population Reference Bureau, 1997.)

6 5 4 3 2 1 0 20 40 60 80 Fertility Rate Percent Contraception

Figure 7-2 Fertility rate and percentage of women using contraception by continent. Fertility rate is the average number of children born to a woman in her lifetime at the current birthrate. Percent contraception is the total percentage of married women using contraception. (Based on data from Population Reference Bureau, 1997.)

teenagers, a figure that includes 11.5% of births to white mothers, 23.2% to black mothers, and 18% to Hispanic mothers. Overall, 32% of the mothers were unmarried (25.3% white, 69.5% black, 40.8% Hispanic), almost 20% had received no prenatal care during the first trimester of pregnancy, 21% had cesarean deliveries, and 7.3% had babies with low birth weights (under 2,500 grams) (Rosenberg et al., 1996).

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