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U.S. births down for 4th year
Baby bust » The decline in 2011 was 1 percent; weak economy blamed.


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One more report highlight: The U.S. C-section rate may have finally peaked at just under 33 percent, the same level as last year.

Cesarean deliveries are sometimes medically necessary. But health officials have worried that many C-sections are done out of convenience or unwarranted caution, and in the 1980s set a goal of keeping the national rate at 15 percent

At a glance

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Among report’s highlights:

» The birth rate for single women fell for the third straight year, dropping by 3 percent from 2010 to 2011. The birth rate for married women, however, rose 1 percent.

» The birth rate for Latino women dropped a whopping 6 percent. But it declined only 2 percent for black women, stayed the same for whites and actually rose for Asian-American and Pacific Islanders.

» Birth rates fell again for women in their early 20s, down 5 percent from 2010 — the lowest mark for women in that age group since 1940.

» Rates held for women in their early 30s, and rose for those ages 35 and older. Experts say that’s not surprising: Older women generally have more financial security, and are more sensitive to the ticking away of their biological clocks.

» Birth rates for teen moms have been falling since 1991 and hit another historic low. The number of teen births last year — about 330,000 — was the fewest in one year since 1946.

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The C-section rate had been rising steadily since 1996, until it dropped slightly in 2010.

"It does suggest the upward trend may be halted," said Joyce Martin, a CDC epidemiologist who co-authored the new report. But CDC officials want a few more years of data before declaring victory, she added.




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