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Natl Vital Stat Rep. 2004 Nov 23;53(9):1-17.

Births: preliminary data for 2003.

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  • 1Division of Vital Statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics, Hyattsville, MD 20782, USA.



This report presents preliminary data for 2003 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, tobacco use, prenatal care, cesarean delivery, preterm births, and low birthweight are also presented.


Data in this report are based on nearly 99 percent of births for 2003. The records are weighted to independent control counts of all births received in State vital statistics offices in 2003. Comparisons are made with 2002 final data.


The crude birth rate rose to 14.1 births per 1000 population in 2003, an increase of 1 percent from 2002 (13.9). The fertility rate also rose in 2003 by 2 percent to 66.1 births per 1000 women aged 15-44 years. Since 1994, the rate has ranged from 63.6 to 66.1. The birth rate for teenagers continued to decline in 2003 to 41.7 births per 1000 women aged 15-19 years, 3 percent lower than in 2002. Rates fell for teenagers in all race and Hispanic origin groups, in many cases marking new record lows for the Nation. Birth rates for teenagers 15-17 and 18-19 years continued to steadily decline. The rate for ages 15-17 was 22.4 per 1000 in 2003, down 3 percent from 2002 and 42 percent from 1991, the recent peak. The rate for older teenagers 18-19 years in 2003 was 70.8 per 1000, also 3 percent lower than in 2002 and 25 percent lower than in 1991. The birth rates for women in their twenties were 102.6 per 1000 for women aged 20-24 years and 115.7 for women aged 25-29 years, a decrease of 1 percent and an increase of 2 percent, respectively, compared with 2002. The birth rate for women aged 30-34 years increased 4 percent to 95.2 births per 1000 women compared with 2002. The rate rose 6 percent for women aged 35-39 years, between 2002 and 2003, and 5 percent for women aged 40-44 years. The rate for women aged 45-49 years remained unchanged. The birth rate for unmarried women increased by 3 percent in 2003, from 43.7 to 44.9 per 1000 unmarried women aged 15-44 years. The proportion of births to unmarried women also increased in 2003 to 34.6 percent, compared with 34.0 percent in 2002. The proportion of mothers smoking during pregnancy continued to steadily decline in 2003, from 11.4 percent in 2002 to 11.0 percent. The percent of women who received prenatal care within the first 3 months of pregnancy edged upward for 2003, to 84.1 percent, compared with 83.7 percent in 2002. In 2003, 27.6 percent of all births were delivered by cesarean delivery, a marked rise of 6 percent over the 2002 level, and one-third higher than that for 1996. The primary cesarean rate also rose 6 percent between 2002 and 2003 while the rate of vaginal birth after previous cesarean (VBAC) dropped by 16 percent. Preterm and low birthweight rates both rose between 2002 and 2003. The preterm rate increased from 12.1 to 12.3 and low birthweight rate rose from 7.8 to 7.9 percent.

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