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Natl Vital Stat Rep. 2003 Jun 25;51(11):1-20.

Births: preliminary data for 2002.

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  • 1U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics, Division of Vital Statistics, Hyattsville, Maryland 20782, USA.



This report presents preliminary data for 2002 on births in the United States. U.S. data on births are shown by age, race, and Hispanic origin of mother. Data on marital status, prenatal care, cesarean delivery, preterm births, and low birthweight are also presented.


Data in this report are based on nearly 98 percent of births for 2002. The records are weighted to independent control counts of all births received in State vital statistics offices in 2002. Comparisons are made with 2001 final data.


The crude birth rate was 13.9 per 1,000 population in 2002, a decrease of 1 percent from 2001 (14.1). This is the lowest birth rate reported for the United States since national data have been available. The fertility rate was also down 1 percent in 2002 to 64.8 births per 1,000 women aged 15-44 years. Since 1990, this rate has declined 9 percent. The birth rate for teenagers continued to decline in 2002, dropping 5 percent to 42.9 births per 1,000 women aged 15-19 years. The teenage birth rate has dropped 28 percent since 1990. The rate for younger teenagers 15-17 years fell 6 percent from 24.7 per 1,000 in 2001 to 23.2 in 2002. The rate for older teenagers 18-19 years declined 4 percent from 76.1 per 1,000 in 2001 to 72.7 in 2002. Since 1990, the rate for teenagers 15-17 years has fallen 38 percent and the rate for teenagers 18-19 years, 18 percent. The birth rate for women aged 20-24 years declined by 3 percent to 103.5 per 1,000 in 2002 compared with 2001, whereas the rate for women aged 25-29 years was essentially unchanged (113.6). The birth rate for women aged 30-34 years decreased slightly from 91.9 per 1,000 in 2001 to 91.6 in 2002. Birth rates for women aged 35-39 years and 40-44 years continued to rise, increasing 2 percent for both. Childbearing among women over 45 years of age was unchanged. The birth rate for unmarried women was down slightly in 2002 to 43.6 births per 1,000 unmarried women aged 15-44 years. The number of births to unmarried women increased by 1 percent in 2002; however births to unmarried teenagers declined by 4 percent. Prenatal care utilization continued to slowly but steadily improve; 83.8 percent of women began prenatal care in the first trimester of pregnancy in 2002 compared with 83.4 in 2001. More than one fourth of all births (26.1 percent) were cesarean deliveries in 2002, the highest rate ever reported in the United States; the primary cesarean rate jumped 7 percent to 18 percent and the rate of vaginal births after previous cesarean delivery plummeted 23 percent to 12.7 percent (figure 1). Preterm (12.0 percent) and low birthweight (7.8 percent) rates were up slightly for 2002. The low birthweight rate is the highest reported in more than three decades.

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