PRELIMINARY DATA ON U.S. BIRTHS
The preliminary data presented in this report are based on records of births occurring in 2002 that were received and that underwent quality control by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health
Statistics as of March 7, 2003. These records represent nearly 98% of the births that occurred in the United States in 2002. The records were weighted to independent control counts of all births received in state vital statistics offices in 2002, and comparisons were made with final data from previous years.
The report presents the following trends in birth numbers and rates:
* The fertility rate for women ages 15-44 years dropped by 1% in 2002, a 9% decline since 1990.
* The birth rate for adolescents ages 15-19 dropped by 5% in 2002, a 28% decline since 1990.
* The birth rate for women ages 20-24 dropped by 3% in 2002 compared with 2001, whereas the birth rates for women ages 35-39 and 40-44 rose by 2%.
* The number of births to unmarried women ages 15-44 rose by 1% in 2002; however, births to unmarried adolescents ages 15-19 dropped by 4%.
* Prenatal care utilization continued to slowly but steadily improve; 83.8% of women began prenatal care in the first trimester of pregnancy in 2002, compared with 83.4% in 2001.
* More than one-fourth of all births in 2002 were cesarean deliveries, the highest rate ever reported in the United States. The primary cesarean rate jumped 7% from the previous year to 18%, also the highest level ever reported for the country. The rate of vaginal births after previous cesarean delivery plummeted by 23% between 2001-2002 to 12.7%.
* Preterm and low-birthweight rates (7.8%) rose slightly in 2002. The low-birthweight rate is the highest reported in more than three decades.
See the report for a list of references and detailed tables, as well as technical notes.
National Center for Health Statistics. 2003. Births: Preliminary data for 2002. National Vital Statistics Report 51(11). Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.