By Norra MacReady
Medscape Medical News
Feb. 11, 2013 -- The U.S. birth rate in 2011 was the lowest rate ever reported for the United States, a new study shows.
The rate, which is live births per 1,000 women, dropped from 13.0 in 2010 to 12.7 in 2011. In 1950, the rate was 24.1. Overall, there were 1% fewer children born in the U.S. in 2011 than in 2010.
The data come from birth and death certificates for residents of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, and were published in the journal Pediatrics.
The decline in birth rate among mothers 15 to 19 was especially dramatic. It dropped 8% from 2011 to 2010 to reach a historic low of 31.3.
Birth rates among women 20 to 24 also fell, from 90.0 in 2010 to 85.3 in 2011, another record low. In contrast, women 40 to 44 saw a 1% increase in birth rates, going from 10.2 in 2010 to 10.3 in 2011. There was no change in rate among women aged 45 to 49.
The study, which also looked at death rates, shows that rate ticking up slightly, from 8.0 deaths per 1,000 people in 2010 to 8.1 last year. It is much lower than the death rate of 9.6 in 1950.
However, age-adjusted death rates, which are considered a better indicator of death risk over time, declined from 7.5 deaths per 1,000 people in 2010 to 7.4 in 2011, a record low. Deaths among children aged 1 to 19 accounted for 20,192 of the roughly 2.5 million total deaths recorded in the U.S. in 2011. Accidents, homicide, and suicide were the three leading causes of death in this age group.
Life expectancy for children born in 2011 was 78.7 years, the same as in 2010. It was highest for Hispanic females, at 83.7 years, and lowest for non-Hispanic black males, at 71.6 years.