The U.S. birth rate held steady in 2022 without returning to pre-pandemic levels, as women are having babies at an older age, a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report revealed Thursday.
Record low birth rates were seen when it comes to moms in their teens and early 20s, with the birth rates among women age 40 and older continue to rise, according to the new CDC analysis of more than 99% of birth certificates issued last year.
Births to moms 35 and older also continued to rise last year, with the highest rates in that age group since the 1960s, the CDC found.
A little under 3.7 million babies were born in the U.S. last year, about 3,000 fewer than the year before. Because the numbers are provisional, and the change was small, officials consider births to have been “kind of level from the previous year,” the CDC’s Brady Hamilton, the lead author of the report, said.
Births to Hispanic moms rose 6% last year and surpassed 25% of the U.S. total, according to the report.
Births to White moms fell 3%, but still accounted for 50% of births. Births to Black moms fell 1%, and were 14% of the total.
The U.S. was once among only a few developed countries with a fertility rate that ensured each generation had enough children to replace itself – about 2.1 kids per woman. However, it has been sliding, and in 2020 dropped to about 1.6, the lowest rate on record. It rose slightly in 2021, to nearly 1.7, and stayed there last year.
The CDC found that birth rates in women ages 35 to 39 increased 2% in 2022.
Nearly continuous increases in birth rates have been seen for women ages 40 to 44 since 1985, NBC News reported. Last year, the birth rate rose by 4% for that age range. In 2022, the birth rate in women ages 45 and older soared by 12%, but the overall number of babies born to mothers in that age range is low.
“The biggest thing is the age structure of the U.S. population is changing. The age structure is very different now compared with a decade or two decades ago. The number of women who are at reproductive age is shrinking,” Feinian Chen, a professor of sociology at Johns Hopkins University, also told NBC.
It also may show whether births were affected by the U.S. Supreme Court decision last June overturning Roe v. Wade, which allowed states to ban or restrict abortion.
If such restrictions are having an impact on births, it did not show up in the national data released Thursday, according to The Associated Press.