U.S. birth rate fell in 2008, report finds

A nurse feeds a baby in the neonatal intensive care unit at the Virtua Health facility in Vorhees, New Jersey, November 19, 2009. REUTERS/Tim Shaffer

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. birth rate fell 2 percent in 2008, to about 4.2 million births, the National Center for Health Statistics reported on Tuesday.

Here are some facts about births in the United States from the NCHS, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

* 4,251,095 babies were born in the United States in 2008, down nearly 2 percent from the 2007 peak of 4.317 million.

* The general fertility rate, which measures births among women aged 15 to 44, declined in 2008 to 68.7 per 1,000.

* The crude birth rate, which refers to births in the total population, was 14 per 1,000, 2 percent lower than the rate in 2007.

* The birth rate for teenagers aged 15-19 fell by 2 percent in 2008 to 41.5 per 1,000, resuming a long-term decline seen since 1991.

* The birth rate for unmarried women aged 15 to 44 declined about 2 percent to 52 per 1,000 women.

* The rate of Cesarean deliveries rose for the 12th straight year, to 32.3 percent of all births.

* The percentage of preterm births declined 3 percent, to 12.3 percent in 2008. “The percentage of births delivered by Cesarean has risen more than 50 percent since 1996,” the report reads.