KEY POINTS

  • The U.S. birth rate continues to fall, according to a CDC report
  • The birth rate has hit its lowest in the last 35 years
  • Experts opine the pandemic could drive down the numbers further

The number of births in the United States were down by 1% in 2019 from the previous year and found to be the lowest in the last 35 years, according to the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC). 

Such a decline in the number of births is the latest sign of a prolonged national baby bust that has been going on for over a decade now. Experts warned the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the economy will suppress these numbers further. The main cause for the decline in the number of births was identified to be the shifting attitudes toward motherhood.

"The fact that births and fertility continued to decline in 2019 despite the booming economy suggests that this is a permanent shift to a lower fertility regime in the U.S. Although some have predicted a coronavirus baby boom in 2021, that seems unlikely," Cheryl Russell, a demographer and contributing editor to the journal American Demographics told The Hill.

"It’s more likely that young women will delay becoming pregnant during this time of uncertainty, so we could see a bigger drop in births and fertility rates in 2021," he added.

The CDC’s report was considered preliminary and based on a review of more than 99% of birth certificates issued last year.

Key points of the report:

  • The number of births in the previous year was about 3.7 million, down 1% from 2018 
  • Birth rates fell for women in nearly all age groups up to 34 years old but rose for those in their early 40s
  • The number of teen moms and mothers in their 20s also continued to fall
  • The C-section delivery rates declined to under 32%
  • For the fifth year in a row, the proportion of babies born at less than 37 weeks of gestation rose to more than 10%
  • The total fertility rate, or the number of births a typical woman would have over her lifetime, fell to 1.7
  • Birth rates in the U.S. have been declining every year since 2007 when a recession hit the nation. It continued to drop even after the economy rebounded
  • Couples seem to be delaying childbearing and have fewer kids once they start

“This unpredictable environment, and anxiety about the future, is going to make women think twice about having children,” Dr. Denise Jamieson, chair of obstetrics and gynecology at Emory University told TIME.