Objectives: This report presents 2008 data on U.S. births according to a wide variety of characteristics. Data are presented for maternal demographic characteristics including age, live-birth order, race and Hispanic origin, marital status, attendant at birth, method of delivery, and infant characteristics (period of gestation, birthweight, 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 age of father. Trends in fertility patterns and maternal and infant characteristics are described and interpreted.
Methods: Descriptive tabulations of data reported on the birth certificates of the 4.25 million births that occurred in 2008 are presented. Denominators for population-based rates are postcensal estimates derived from the U.S. 2000 census.
Results: A total of 4,247,694 births were registered in the United States in 2008, 2 percent less than in 2007. The general fertility rate declined 1 percent to 68.6 per 1,000. The teenage birth rate declined 2 percent to 41.5 per 1,000. Birth rates for women aged 20 to 39 years were down 1-3 percent, whereas the birth rate for women aged 40-44 rose to the highest level reported in more than 40 years. The total fertility rate declined 2 percent to 2,084.5 per 1,000 women. All measures of unmarried childbearing reached record levels-40.6 percent of births were to unmarried women in 2008. The cesarean delivery rate rose again to 32.3 percent. The preterm birth rate declined for the second consecutive year to 12.3 percent; the low birthweight rate was down very slightly. The twin birth rate increased 1 percent to 32.6 per 1,000; the triplet and higher-order multiple birth rate was stable.