Objectives: This report presents preliminary data on births and deaths in the United States from the National Center for Health Statistics for 1996. U.S. data are shown by age, race, and Hispanic origin. National and State data on births by marital status, prenatal care, cesarean delivery, and low birthweight are also presented. Mortality data presented include life expectancy, leading causes of death, and infant mortality.
Methods: This report, the third in a new statistical series, presents preliminary data for 1996 on births and deaths based on a substantial sample of vital records. The records are weighted to independent control counts of births, infant deaths, and total deaths received in State vital statistics offices during calendar year 1996.
Results: According to preliminary data for 1996, the birth rate for teenagers dropped 4 percent in 1996 to 54.7 births per 1,000 women aged 15-19 years. The teen birth rate has declined 12 percent since 1991 (62.1), with larger reductions for young teenagers 15-17 years and for black teenagers. Birth rates for women aged 20-34 years increased 1-2 percent, while rates for women aged 35-44 years rose 3 percent. The number and percent of births to unmarried women increased about 1 percent, while the birth rate for unmarried women declined 1 percent. The rate of prenatal care utilization improved and the cesarean delivery rate declined. The overall low birthweight rate increased to 7.4 percent. The 1996 preliminary infant mortality rate reached a record low of 7.2 infant deaths per 1,000 live births with all-time lows for white and black infants. Life expectancy reached a record high of 76.1 years with all-time highs for white and black males and black females. The largest declines in age-adjusted death rates among the leading causes of death were for Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) (26 percent) and Homicide (11 percent), which dropped from the 12th to the 14th leading cause of death.