Early CDC Data Shows U.S. Birth Rates Continued to Decline in 2022

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On June 1, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a preliminary report showing a decrease in U.S. births in 2022. The CDC called the less than 1% decrease “a very small difference,” but it does follow a continuing trend of declining birth rates that began in 2007. Learn more about birth rates in the United States and possible factors contributing to the decline.

Understanding 2022 U.S. Birth and Fertility Rates

In 2020, the annual birth rate took a sharp drop of 4%, which many experts linked to the COVID-19 pandemic. Rates seemed like they were bouncing back in 2021, but final numbers from the CDC showed only a 1% increase that year.

The CDC’s early data for 2022 counts about 3.6 million births, 3,000 fewer than the year before. While it is a slight decrease, annual birth rates still have a long way to go to recover from the 2020 decrease.

The data also shows that birth rates varied for mothers from different racial and ethnic backgrounds, with decreases specifically affecting Black, Native American/Alaska Native, and white populations.

Racial/Ethnic GroupChange in Birth Rate for 2022
Asian2% increase
Black1% decrease
Hispanic4% increase
Native American and Alaska Native3% decrease
Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander6% increase
White3% decrease
Source: CDC Report, "Births: Provisional Data for 2022"

The general fertility rate, which describes the number of children women will have in their lifetime, also declined by less than 1%.

Despite these steady declines, cesarean section (C-section) delivery rates increased to 32.2% of all deliveries. This is the third year in a row that C-section deliveries have increased.

Researchers Continue to Assess Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic

While the height of the COVID-19 pandemic is behind us, there is no doubt of the tremendous impact it had on birth rates and family dynamics. Couples once interested in conceiving may have postponed family planning until after the pandemic eased.

However, as economic stresses like inflation, financial stability, and job loss are at the top of many people’s minds, American families may still be postponing having children.

A 2021 study from the Guttmacher Institute found that 1 in 5 potential parents changed their mind about having children because of the pandemic. Lower-income Black and Hispanic families were more likely to change their preferences on when to have children and how many they would have.

A similar decreased interest in growing families happened during the Great Recession of the early 2000s. In fact, the sharp decline in births — a decrease of 9% from 2007 to 2012 — has never rebounded.

Additionally, mothers continue to take on more in their day-to-day lives. Many already assume invisible household responsibilities while juggling the expectations of their job, partner, and extended family. All of these responsibilities significantly increased during the pandemic, with many parents schooling and caring for children at home while also working remotely.

This can increase the likelihood of burnout and stress, which may make it incredibly difficult to consider having another child. Ultimately, parents who want to expand their family need large-scale cultural changes to support and protect them.

CDC researchers are still looking into how people from various backgrounds and locations are responding to these changes, and they will present any significant findings in a final birth rates report later in 2023.

Do Birth Injuries and Medical Negligence Affect Birth Rates?

Experts are continuing to examine the factors affecting the declining birth rates. One possible contribution could be mothers who have already gone through difficult and traumatic births — with babies across the country suffering preventable birth injuries.

Hospitals are still recovering from understaffing, inadequate training, and pressure from the pandemic. This creates a greater risk of women experiencing medical negligence during the birthing process, especially for lower-income families, according to experts at New York University’s Rory Meyers College of Nursing.

“These gaps in staffing are particularly troubling for our most at-risk patients. Many maternal complications can be prevented or quickly addressed through timely recognition … but this is only possible when there are enough nurses monitoring patients.”
— Dr. Audrey Lyndon, Assistant Dean for Clinical Research at NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing

With C-section deliveries becoming more common, more mothers and their children could suffer from C-section injuries, especially if the procedure is rushed, delayed, or performed without adequate care.

While the specific reason for increased C-sections is not entirely known, it may be due to obstetricians not being trained properly to use assistive delivery tools. Without training, complications from vacuum extractors and injuries caused by forceps can increase and harm mother and child.

All of these injuries could make parents feel discouraged about growing their families and, as a result, lower national birth rates.

Our Team Is Committed to Supporting Families

It is crucial for hospitals and their staff to provide the best care to parents and their newborn children so they can feel safe and secure in growing their families.

The Birth Injury Justice Center is dedicated to supporting families impacted by birth injuries and negligent medical staff. Too many parents — often those with lower incomes — are left with financial instability while navigating treatment for an avoidable birth injury.

If your child suffered complications or injuries due to medical negligence, our team can help you find the financial aid you need for treatment. Get started with a free case review today.

Birth Injury Support Team

The Birth Injury Justice Center was founded in 2003 by a team of legal professionals to educate and empower victims and families affected by birth injuries. Our team is devoted to providing you with the best resources and legal information for all types of birth injuries.

View Sources
  1. CBS News. “Fewer babies born in U.S. in 2022, and teen birth rate hit record low, CDC reports.” Retrieved from: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/fewer-babies-born-2022-teen-birth-rate-cdc-report/. Accessed on June 15, 2023.
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Births: Provisional Data for 2022.” Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/vsrr/vsrr028.pdf. Accessed on June 15, 2023.
  3. Guttmacher Institute. (2021). “The Continuing Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic in the United States: Findings from the 2021 Guttmacher Survey of Reproductive Health Experiences.” Retrieved from: https://www.guttmacher.org/report/continuing-impacts-covid-19-pandemic-findings-2021-guttmacher-survey-reproductive-health. Accessed on June 15, 2023.
  4. The Harvard Gazette. (2023) “Dad’s clueless, Mom’s fried. Maybe there’s a better way.” Retrieved from: https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2023/03/counting-invisible-work-in-household-division-of-labor/. Accessed on June 15, 2023.
  5. Kearney, M. S., & Levine, P. B. (2021, January 7). Half a million fewer children? The coming covid baby bust. Brookings. Retrieved from: https://www.brookings.edu/research/half-a-million-fewer-children-the-coming-covid-baby-bust/. Accessed on June 15, 2023.
  6. NYU. (2023). “Hospitals with the Most Vulnerable Maternity Patients Understaffed with Nurses.” Retrieved from: https://www.nyu.edu/about/news-publications/news/2023/march/hospital-maternity-staffing.html. Accessed on June 15, 2023.