The number of births, the crude birth rate (14.5 in 2001), and the fertility rate (67.2 in 2001) all declined slightly (by 1% or less) from 2000 to 2001. Fertility rates were highest for Hispanic women (107.4), followed by Native American (70.7), Asian or Pacific Islander (69.4), black (69.3), and non-Hispanic white women (58.0). During the early to mid 1990s, fertility declined for non-Hispanic white, black, and American Indian women. Rates for these population groups have changed relatively little since 1995; however, fertility has increased for Asian or Pacific Islander and Hispanic women.
The birth rate for teen mothers continued to fall, dropping 5% from 2000 to 2001 to 45.9 births per 1000 females aged 15 to 19 years, another record low. The teen birth rate has fallen 26% since 1991; declines were more rapid (35%) for younger teens aged 15 to 17 years than for older teens aged 18 to 19 years (20%). The proportion of all births to unmarried women remained about the same at one-third. Smoking during pregnancy continued to decline; smoking rates were highest among teen mothers.
The use of timely prenatal care increased slightly to 83.4% in 2001. From 1990 to 2001, the use of timely prenatal care increased by 6% (to 88.5%) for non-Hispanic white women, by 23% (to 74.5%) for black women, and by 26% (to 75.7%) for Hispanic women. The number and rate of twin births continued to rise, but the triplet/+ birth rate declined for the second year in a row. For the first year in almost a decade, the preterm birth rate declined (to 11.6%); however, the low birth weight rate was unchanged at 7.6%. The total cesarean delivery rate jumped 7% from 2000 to 2001 to 24.4% of all births, the highest level reported since these data became available on birth certificates (1989). The primary cesarean rate rose 5%, whereas the rate of vaginal birth after a previous cesarean delivery tumbled 20%.
In 2001, the provisional infant mortality rate was 6.9 per 1000 live births, the same as in 2000. Racial differences in infant mortality remain a major public health concern, with the rate for infants of black mothers 2.5 times those for infants of non-Hispanic white or Hispanic mothers. In 2000, 66% of all infant deaths occurred among the 7.6% of infants born low birth weight. Among all states, Maine and Massachusetts had the lowest infant mortality rates. The United States continues to rank poorly in international comparisons of infant mortality.
The provisional death rate in 2001 was 8.7 deaths per 1000 population, the same as the 2000 final rate. In 2000, unintentional injuries and homicide remained the leading and second-leading causes of death for children 1 to 19 years of age, although the death rate for homicide decreased by 10% from 1999 to 2000. Among unintentional injuries to children, two-thirds were motor vehicle-related; among homicides, two-thirds were firearm-related.