Objectives: This report presents 2007 data on U.S. births according to a wide variety of characteristics; preliminary 2008 data are also referenced on key measures where available. Final 2007 data are presented for maternal demographic characteristics including age, live-birth order, race and Hispanic origin, marital status, and educational attainment; maternal lifestyle and health characteristics (medical risk factors, weight gain, and tobacco use); medical care utilization by pregnant women (prenatal care, obstetric procedures, characteristics of labor and/or delivery, attendant at birth, and method of delivery); and infant characteristics (period of gestation, birthweight, Apgar score, congenital anomalies, and multiple births). Birth and fertility rates by age, live-birth order, race and Hispanic origin, and marital status also are presented. Selected data by mother's state of residence are shown, as well as data on month and day of birth, sex ratio, and age of father. Trends in fertility patterns and maternal and infant characteristics are described and interpreted.
Methods: Descriptive tabulations are presented of data reported on the birth certificates of the 4.3 million births that occurred in 2007. Preliminary 2008 data are based on 99.9 percent of births occurring in 2008. Denominators for population-based rates are postcensal estimates derived from the U.S. 2000 census.
Results: A total of 4,316,233 births were registered in the United States in 2007, the largest number of births ever reported. The general fertility rate increased 1 percent to 69.5 per 1,000. Birth rates increased for women in nearly all age groups. The rate for teenagers rose 1 percent for the year and is up 5 percent from 2005. The total fertility rate increased 1 percent to 2,122.0 births per 1,000 women. Preliminary data for 2008, however, suggest a decline in the number and rate of births overall, and for most age groups under age 40 years. All measures of unmarried childbearing reached record levels in 2007. The cesarean delivery rate rose to another all-time high--31.8 percent. Preterm and low birthweight rates declined slightly, and twin and triplet and higher-order multiple birth rates were essentially unchanged. Preliminary findings for 2008 suggest that these trends continued for cesarean delivery, unmarried childbearing, and preterm births.