(HealthDay News) — The number of births reached a new low in 2018, as did the general fertility rate in the United States, according to a Vital Statistics Rapid Release report, a publication from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Brady E. Hamilton, Ph.D., from the National Center for Health Statistics in Hyattsville, Maryland, and colleagues presented provisional 2018 data on U.S. births, using data from 99.73 percent of 2018 births. Data were compared with earlier years.

The researchers found that the provisional number of births for the United States in 2018 was down 2 percent from 2017 at 3,788,235, which was the lowest number in 32 years. For women aged 15 to 44 years, the general fertility rate was 59.0 births per 1,000 women, down 2 percent from 2017 and reaching a record low. In 2018, the total fertility rate decreased 2 percent to 1,728.0 births per 1,000 women, marking another record low. Birth rates decreased for nearly all age groups younger than 35 years and increased for women in their late 30s and early 40s. For teenagers aged 15 to 19 years, the birth rate was down 7 percent in 2018 to 17.4 births per 1,000 women.

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In 2018, there was a decrease in the cesarean delivery rate to 31.9 percent and a decrease in the low-risk cesarean delivery rate to 25.9 percent. The preterm birth rate increased for the fourth consecutive year to 10.02 percent in 2018.

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