msnbc.com news services
updated 4/6/2010 12:31:00 PM ET 2010-04-06T16:31:00

A new government study confirms that U.S. births fell in 2008, probably because of the recession. The one exception to the trend was the birth rate among women in their 40s. Experts say these women probably felt they didn't have the luxury of waiting for better economic times.

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The birth rate for women in their early 40s rose a surprising 4 percent over the previous year. But birth rates declined for teen mothers, as well as women in their 20s and 30s.

The U.S. birth rate fell 2 percent in 2008, to about 4.2 million births, the National Center for Health Statistics reported on Tuesday.

Some other facts about U.S. births from the NCHS, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta:

  • 4,251,095 babies were born in the United States in 2008, down nearly 2 percent from the 2007 peak of 4.317 million.
  • The general fertility rate, which measures births among women aged 15 to 44, declined in 2008 to 68.7 per 1,000.
  • The crude birth rate, which refers to births in the total population, was 14 per 1,000, 2 percent lower than the rate in 2007.
  • The birth rate for teenagers aged 15-19 fell by 2 percent in 2008 to 41.5 per 1,000, resuming a long-term decline seen since 1991.
  • The birth rate for unmarried women aged 15 to 44 declined about 2 percent to 52 per 1,000 women.
  • The rate of Cesarean deliveries rose for the 12th straight year, to 32.3 percent of all births.
  • The percentage of preterm births declined 3 percent, to 12.3 percent in 2008. "The percentage of births delivered by Cesarean has risen more than 50 percent since 1996," the report reads.

The CDC released the report Tuesday.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report

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