Objectives: This report presents preliminary data on births and deaths in the United States from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) for 1997. U.S. data on births are shown by age, race, and Hispanic origin of mother. National and State data on 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: Data in this report are based on a 99 percent sample of births and more than an 85 percent sample of deaths in the United States in 1997. The records are weighted to independent control counts of births, infant deaths, and deaths 1 year and over received in State vital statistics offices in 1997.
Results: According to preliminary data for 1997, the birth rate for teenagers dropped to 52.9 births per 1,000 women aged 15-19 years, 3 percent lower compared with 1996. Birth rates for teenagers have been declining since 1991. Declines for younger teenagers (15-17 years) were greater than for older teenagers. Birth rates for women aged 25-44 years increased 1 to 2 percent; the rate for women aged 20-24 years rose very slightly. The number of births to unmarried women was essentially unchanged and the percent of all births to unmarried women remained at 32.4 percent; the birth rate for unmarried women declined 2 percent. The rate of prenatal care utilization continued to improve. The cesarean delivery rate increased slightly. The overall low birthweight rate increased to 7.5 percent. The largest declines in estimated age-adjusted death rates among the leading causes of death were for Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection (47 percent) and homicide (12 percent). Mortality also decreased for firearm injuries, drug-induced deaths, and alcohol-induced deaths. The age-adjusted death rate increased for Pneumonia and influenza, Chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, kidney disease, and Septicemia. The preliminary infant mortality rate for 1997 was 7.1 infant deaths per 1,000 live births, down from a rate of 7.3 for 1996. The infant mortality rate for black infants declined 7 percent to 13.7; the white rate was 6.0. Life expectancy reached a record high of 76.5 years in 1997.