It may not qualify as a baby boom, but U.S. births were up in 2021 for the first time in years.
New federal government data show a 1% increase in births from 2020, with more than 3.6 million births last year. It was the first increase in seven years.
The general fertility rate for 2021 also rose 1%, with 56.6 births for every 1,000 women between the ages of 15 and 44.
That slight bump upwards marks at least a turnaround from the "baby bust" of the first pandemic year: Both the fertility rate and number of births declined a significant 4% between 2019 and 2020, the report's authors noted.
However, "we're still not returning to pre-pandemic levels," Dr. Denise Jamieson, chair of gynecology and obstetrics at Emory University School of Medicine, told the Associated Press.
The new report is from the National Center for Health Statistics, part of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It analyzed data from more than 99% of birth certificates issued nationwide.
Age of mother mattered. The birth rate rose for 25- to 49-year-old women, but dropped for those between 15 and 24. It was unchanged among 10- to 14-year-olds.
The rise in births among older women was larger during the latter part of 2021 compared to earlier in the year, according to CDC researcher Brady Hamilton, who led the new study. That might reflect an ebbing of uncertainty around pregnancy and delivery in this age group as the year went on, he said.
"These are births that were postponed," Hamilton told the AP.
Except for 2006 and 2007, teen birth rates have declined each year since 1991.
In 2021, birth rates fell among 15- to 17-year-olds and among those 18 to 19. For 15- to 19-year-olds, the rate fell 6% in 2021 to 14.4 births per 1,000 females.
But circumstances surrounding the births also reflected some changes.
The preterm birth rate rose 4% to 10.48% in 2021. This was the highest since 2007.
Meanwhile, the rate of cesarean delivery grew to 32.1% and the rate of low-risk cesarean delivery rose to 26.3%.
The World Population Review has state-by-state birth rates.
SOURCE: National Center for Health Statistics, news release, May 24, 2022