Feb 8, 2023 - Health

CDC data shows births rise among 35+

U.S. birth rates, by age of mother
Data: National Center for Health Statistics; Chart: Axios Visuals

Birth rates increased among women ages 25 and up — especially among those in their mid-to-late-30s — during the second year of the pandemic, according to final data released recently by the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics.

Why it matters: It bucks the trend of declining births almost every year since 2007.

  • The number of births declined an average of 2% a year between 2007 and 2013. They rose briefly in 2014 before falling again, and declined 4% in 2020, the first year of the pandemic.

By the numbers: There were about 3.7 million births in the U.S. in 2021, up 1% over 2020.

  • Birth rates rose 2% to 5% for women aged 25–44. They rose most significantly (5%) among women ages 35-39.
  • Meanwhile, birth rates fell 3% for women aged 20–24.
  • The mean age of mothers the first time they gave birth was 27.3 years in 2021, up from 27.1 in 2020, and another record high.

Between the lines: There were some positive population-level trends. For instance, prenatal care beginning in the first trimester rose to 78.3% in 2021.

  • The percentage of women who smoked during pregnancy declined to 4.6%.
  • The birth rate among teenagers ages 15–19 fell 7% between 2020 and 2021 to a record low.

Yes, but: The Cesarean delivery rate increased to 32.1% in 2021.

  • The preterm birth rate rose 4% to 10.5% and the low birthweight rate also rose to 8.5%.
Go deeper