Fewer unmarried women having children, CDC reports

August 13, 2014 by Steven Reinberg, Healthday Reporter
Fewer unmarried women having children, CDC reports
Declines seen in every age group except for those over 35

(HealthDay)—Fewer unmarried America women are having babies, with the notable exception of those who are over 35, federal health officials reported Wednesday.

Births outside of marriage continued a slight decline in 2013, accounting for 40.6 percent of all births, according to a report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

That's 7 percent lower than the peak in 2008, with reductions in all age groups under the age of 35, the CDC found.

"It's still high compared with previous generations, but there has been a decline," said report author Sally Curtin, a statistician at the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics.

The fall-off is recent, Curtin said. "Since the 1940s, except for a few brief periods, there has been almost a continued increase in non-marital childbearing," she explained.

That climb represented a cultural shift, she added. "Of all unmarried births, only 15 percent are to teenagers. The majority of these births are in co-habiting unions," she said.

Babies born to unmarried women living with a partner increased from 41 percent of all births in 2002 to 58 percent in the late 2000s, according to the report. About half of these pregnancies were intended, Curtin said.

The slight drop in births to younger unmarried women since the late 2000s mirrors the decline in all births in the United States, Curtin said. "The fertility rate has declined, but the percent of decline in births to unmarried women has been greater," she said.

This pattern began with the start of the recession in 2007, she said. "The areas that had the worst economic downturn also had the largest drops in the fertility rate," Curtin said.

In 2013, births to unmarried women totaled more than 1.6 million. About four of every 10 births were to single mothers every year from 2007 through 2013, the report found.

Experts track births to unmarried women because they're linked to higher risk for complications such as premature delivery, low weight and infant death.

Dr. Jill Rabin, co-chief of ambulatory care and women's health programs at North Shore-LIJ Health System in New Hyde Park, N.Y., considers fewer births to single mothers a plus. But she views the rise in births among unmarried partners as a positive trend.

"It's true that in two-parent families, regardless of the gender of the couple, kids tend to do better," Rabin said.

"It's easier when you have a partner raising your child in terms of psychosocial support in addition to the financial benefit," she said. "I do think it takes a village to raise a child."

Other highlights of the childbearing report:

  • Single teens aged 15 to 17 accounted for the largest fall-off in births to unmarried mothers. The rate dropped almost one-third between 2007 and 2012, reaching 14 births out of every 1,000. The rate for older unmarried teens fell more than one-quarter, to 46 per 1,000 births.
  • The among unmarried women in their late 30s was 7 percent higher in 2012 than in 2007 —and nearly twice the 2002 rate.
  • In 2012, aged 40 to 44 accounted for nine of every 1,000 births—up 29 percent from 2007.
  • Declining birth rates to unmarried mothers were more significant among black and Hispanic women than whites. Although unmarried Hispanic women had the highest birth rate—73 per 1,000 births—in 2012, that also represented a 28 percent decline from 2007.
  • Among unmarried black women, the birth rate dropped 11 percent between 2007 and 2012, to 63 of every 1,000 live births.
  • For unwed white women, a 6 percent decline in births was reported for unmarried white women during those years. That rate—32 of every 1,000 births in 2012—was about half that of black and Hispanic women.

Explore further: CDC: Nearly 1 in 4 babies born to unwed cohabitors

More information: For more on birth rates to unmarried women, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Related Stories

CDC: Nearly 1 in 4 babies born to unwed cohabitors

April 12, 2012
(AP) -- Health officials say nearly 1 in 4 babies are born to unmarried couples who are living together, a significant jump from a decade ago.

More than a third of births 'unintended': CDC

July 24, 2012
(HealthDay) -- More than a third of births in the United States stem from unintended pregnancies, a number that's remained steady in the United States from 1982 to 2010, a new government report indicates.

Average age of women giving birth increases over the last year, CDC says

September 11, 2013
The average age of women giving birth in America rose last year as the nation's birthrate held steady after several years of decline, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

More signs that US births may have stopped falling

December 6, 2013
There's more evidence that U.S. births may be leveling off after years of decline.

Recommended for you

Wine is good for you—to a point

January 18, 2018
The Mediterranean diet has become synonymous with healthy eating, but there's one thing in it that stands out: It's cool to drink wine.

Sleep better, lose weight?

January 17, 2018
(HealthDay)—Sleeplessness could cost you when it's time to stand on your bathroom scale, a new British study suggests.

Who uses phone apps to track sleep habits? Mostly the healthy and wealthy in US

January 16, 2018
The profile of most Americans who use popular mobile phone apps that track sleep habits is that they are relatively affluent, claim to eat well, and say they are in good health, even if some of them tend to smoke.

Improvements in mortality rates are slowed by rise in obesity in the United States

January 15, 2018
With countless medical advances and efforts to curb smoking, one might expect that life expectancy in the United States would improve. Yet according to recent studies, there's been a reduction in the rate of improvement in ...

Teens likely to crave junk food after watching TV ads

January 15, 2018
Teenagers who watch more than three hours of commercial TV a day are more likely to eat hundreds of extra junk food snacks, according to a report by Cancer Research UK.

Can muesli help against arthritis?

January 15, 2018
It is well known that healthy eating increases a general sense of wellbeing. Researchers at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) have now discovered that a fibre-rich diet can have a positive influence ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.