Washington (AFP) - The number of births in the United States rose slightly in 2021, the first increase in seven years, according to preliminary data published by authorities Tuesday.
There were 3,659,289 births recorded in 2021, up one percent from 2020, a report by the National Center for Health Statistics said.
With the exception of 2014, the number of US births has been declining every year since 2008 -- and fell four percent in 2020 compared to 2019.
The drop in 2020 was accentuated by the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the US Census bureau, and it's possible people who postponed having babies had them in 2021.
The general fertility rate in 2021 was 1.66 children per woman, again up one percent from the previous year, which had set an all-time low.
Despite this slight increase, the fertility rate remained well below the rate necessary for a generation to be replaced (2.1 births per woman), which the United States has been generally below since 1971 and consistently below since 2007.
The birth rate for teenagers ages 15 to 19 declined by six percent in 2021 to 14.4 births per 1,000 females.
The rate among this age group has declined by 65 percent since 2007, the most recent peak, the report said.
The cesarean delivery rate shot up 32.1 percent in 2021.
Rates of C-sections have been rising as more patients request them and more doctors carry them out for reasons of convenience.
The preterm birth rate rose four percent to 10.5 percent -- the highest level since 2007.