Statistics do not tell the entire tale about births in America. However, statistics do show some fascinating trends in American society. There are nearly 4 million babies born in the U.S. every year. In the most recent year with statistical analysis, 2017, there were 3,855,500 births recorded. Here are some interesting facts and trends from that statistical analysis:
Where Babies Are Born
The vast majority of births, nearly 98.4%, take place at a hospital or a birthing center connected to a hospital. Surprisingly, home births were second, with about 1% of births occurring at home. The remaining births occurred at free standing birthing centers that were not connected to a hospital.
Among hospital births, the attendant was an MD in 99% of cases and a certified nurse midwife or midwife in the remaining 1% of cases. However, among the births occurring at home and free standing birthing centers, certified nurse midwives and midwives made up 77% of the attendants.
Maternal Risk Factors
This preference for giving birth at maternity clinics and maternity centers connected with hospitals is logical given that some risk factor was diagnosed in slightly over 15% of births. The most common risk factor was gestational hypertension, such as preeclampsia, and the second most common risk factor was gestational diabetes.
Preeclampsia is a form of high blood pressure that only occurs during pregnancy. Since preeclampsia can affect the health of both the mother and the baby, it is taken seriously. However, when treated, most women with preeclampsia deliver a healthy baby.
Gestational diabetes, like preeclampsia, is a form of diabetes that only occurs during pregnancy. The causes of gestational diabetes are not understood, but with early diagnosis and treatment, both the mother and baby can have a normal delivery.
While not necessarily a risk factor in itself, age does tend to increase the risk associated with pregnancy. Thus, the recent trend of women waiting until later in life to have children is likely to also factor into the number of births at hospitals and birthing centers connected to hospitals.
The birth rates among women in their 20s is down and has been decreasing for several years. Correspondingly, birth rates among women in their 30s and 40s is up and has been increasing for several years. Currently, the mean age for first time mothers is 26.8 years old.
This dovetails with opinion surveys that suggest Millennials are waiting longer to have kids, primarily due to financial instability and debt. In fact, more women gave birth in their 30s than in their 20s in 2018.
Another trend among Millennials is delaying getting married or foregoing getting married altogether. According to statistical data, the mean age at the time of first marriage is 27 for women and 29 for men. This has gone up by seven years for women and six years for men since 1960. Moreover, marriage is a goal for about 70% of Millennials. If they follow through on their plans, this will be drop of 12% from the marriage rate among Generation X and a drop of 21% from the marriage rate among Baby Boomers.
Thus, it is not surprising that nearly 40% of births in the U.S. are to unmarried mothers. The state with the lowest percentage of unmarried mothers is Utah with 18.5% of births to unmarried mothers.
Some of the data is purely fun. The month with the greatest number of births in 2018 was August and the month with the fewest number of births was February, although it should be noted that February is also the shortest month.
The day of the week with the greatest number of births is Thursday, although Tuesday and Wednesday are not far behind. The day of the week with the fewest number of births is Sunday. There is a possible explanation for this statistic – about 50% of births in the U.S. are now the product of C-sections or pre-arranged induced labor. The result is that most babies are born during the daytime on a weekday.
Birth statistics tell us something about our society. Mothers are waiting longer to have children and waiting longer to marry. And despite the choices available for where to deliver a baby, women still overwhelmingly choose hospitals and birthing centers connected to hospitals.