Jun 24, 2021 12:20 UTC
  • US birth rate suffers biggest decline in nearly 50 years, CDC data show

The United States has registered the largest drop in births in nearly a half-century as the coronavirus pandemic took hold, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in a report on Wednesday.

"The number of births declined for all race and Hispanic-origin groups from 2019 to 2020, with declines ranging from 3 percent (Hispanic women) to 8 percent (non-Hispanic Asian women). The US general fertility rate also declined 4 percent from 2019 to 2020, the largest percent decline in this [overall] rate in nearly five decades," the report said.

It's "the largest annual decline in the number of births since 1973," CDC researchers wrote in the report.

The CDC counted 3.6 million births in 2020, based on provisional data. That's a decrease from about 3.75 million births in 2019 and 3.8 million births in 2018.

The number of coronavirus infections in the United States rose from 26 cases in early March 2020 to more than 20 million at the end of December. The biggest declines in the numbers of births occurred from July through the end of the year, the report pointed.

The coronavirus pandemic paired with an ongoing decline in US births, has presented the "perfect storm" for an accelerated decrease in the number of babies born, Dr. Rahul Gupta, chief medical and health officer for the maternal and infant health nonprofit March of Dimes said.

"We already have a maternal and infant health crisis in our country. We already have disproportionality in terms of racial disparities," said Gupta.

The racial disparities were also highlighted in the CDC report, with the researchers finding that from 2019 to 2020, declines in the numbers of births each month were greater among women of color compared with White women.

The number of births declined for all 50 states and Washington, DC, in the second half of last year compared with the same period in 2019.

The states with the largest drop in births for the second half of 2020 were: New Mexico, New York, California, Hawaii, and West Virginia.

The previous CDC report also said in May that the Unites States suffered the biggest fall in fertility rate in more than four decades as the COVID-19 pandemic forced more Americans to deal with job losses and family issues.

The trend has been dropping over the years as American women marry late and delay motherhood especially in years when the economy has slowed.