The U.S. teen birthrate is currently down nearly 80% from where it was 30 years ago due to increased access to contraception, public awareness campaigns, and sex education in schools. File photo by Julia Fiedler
June 1 (UPI) -- The birthrate among U.S. teenagers fell to an all-time low in 2022 while fewer babies were born overall than the previous year as more young women were choosing to wait to have kids, according to a new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
According to the findings, teen birthrates dropped 3% last year, which was a small decline historically but one that also continued a downward trend as underage births have dipped at least 8% per year since 2007.
While an estimated 3,661,220 babies were born nationwide in 2022, the overall birthrate declined by less than 1% during the same period when compared to the year before, the report found.
"It's essentially unchanged. It's a very small difference, relatively speaking, compared to the total number of births, which are in the millions," said Brady Hamilton, a statistician demographer at the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics.
Researchers collected data from more than 99% of births in the U.S. last year, highlighted by continued progress on the issue of teenage pregnancy.
Public health experts said the latest figures indicate the nation had likely reached its pinnacle in combating births among teens, suggesting the numbers might not get any lower.
"If there are a lot of states where the rates are already low, they bottom out. They can't get any lower," said the report's lead author, Brady Hamilton, a statistician and demographer at the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics who noted the report's findings would be updated soon as last-minute data trickles in.
The teen birthrate is currently down nearly 80% from where it was 30 years ago due to increased access to contraception, public awareness campaigns, and sex education in schools.
A 2022 study by New York University showed teen birthrates fell in U.S. counties where federal government-funded sex education programs were introduced a little more than a decade ago.
Experts on declining birthrates said many women were now making a conscientious choice to have children later in life while taking meaningful steps to avoid pregnancies in their teens and early 20s.
"This means people are having babies when they want to," said Karen Guzzo, the director of the Carolina Population Center at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
The report found births among women age 35 to 39 went up 2% in 2022; and over the same time, births among women age 40 to 44 rose 4%, while births among women 45 and older grew 12%, although their overall numbers were modest.
Delaying parenthood appeared to be a growing trend worldwide as many nations, including most of Europe, have reported declining fertility and birthrates in recent years.
"It probably means that more women are having children when they want to have children," said Joshua Goldstein, the director of the Berkeley Population Center at the University of California, Berkeley. "They've had chances to get better education, better chances to find the right partner, more chances to excel in their career."
The number of babies born in the U.S. has also fallen steadily since 2007, while the overall birthrate remains consistently low with the exception of a small bump in 2021 following the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The findings led some to speculate whether enough children were being born to fully supplant the current generation.
"It's not the size of the next generation that matters. It's the contribution that generation can make," Goldstein said. "The fact that women are able to have children at the ages they want and invest in those children is a positive thing," he said.