May 27, 2022 - News

North Carolina sees baby bump in 2021

Change in number of births, 2020 to 2021
Data: CDC; Chart: Erin Davis/Axios Visuals

North Carolina — and the U.S. as a whole — saw an uptick in babies born last year, after births plummeted in the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • There were 118,792 babies born in N.C. in 2021, a nearly 3% increase from 2020.

Driving the news: Nationally, births had been declining by an average of 2% every year since 2014, and plunged 4% in the early phase of the pandemic, from 2019 to 2020, per a provisional report from the CDC, Axios reported.

  • Similarly, North Carolina's births had also been falling since 2014 —with a steeper drop between 2019 and 2020.
  • In 2014, nearly 121,000 babies were born in the state. The annual total has declined every year since then.
Births in North Carolina, per year
Data: N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, CDC; Chart: Axios Visuals

Zoom out: More than 3.6 million babies were born in the U.S. in 2021, a 1% increase from 2020 levels.

  • The increased birth rate in 2021 spanned all age groups over 25.
  • It fell for women ages 15-24.

Of note: The percentage of premature births (10.48%) hit its highest reported level since representative national data became available, according to the CDC.

  • North Carolina's percentage of preterm births was higher than the U.S. as a whole at 10.64%.
  • C-sections made up 30.2% of births in North Carolina in 2021, up from 29.9%.

Context: The rise in births also comes as more North Carolinians find themselves living in "maternity care deserts."

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