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

Parents have critical role in preventing teen drinking

July 20, 2017
Fewer teenagers are drinking alcohol but more needs to be done to curb the drinking habits of Australian school students, based on the findings of the latest study by Adelaide researchers.

Aging Americans enjoy longer life, better health when avoiding three risky behaviors

July 20, 2017
We've heard it before from our doctors and other health experts: Keep your weight down, don't smoke and cut back on the alcohol if you want to live longer.

Fresh fish oil lowers diabetes risk in rat offspring

July 19, 2017
Fresh fish oil given to overweight pregnant rats prevented their offspring from developing a major diabetes risk factor, Auckland researchers have found.

High-dose vitamin D doesn't appear to reduce the winter sniffles for children

July 18, 2017
Giving children high doses of vitamin D doesn't appear to reduce the winter sniffles, a new study has found.

Scientists develop new supplement that can repair, rejuvenate muscles in older adults

July 18, 2017
Whey protein supplements aren't just for gym buffs according to new research from McMaster university. When taken on a regular basis, a combination of these and other ingredients in a ready-to-drink formula have been found ...

Study: Eating at 'wrong time' affects body weight, circadian rhythms

July 18, 2017
A new high-precision feeding system for lab mice reinforces the idea that the time of day food is eaten is more critical to weight loss than the amount of calories ingested.


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.