ATLANTA (AP) More babies were born in the U.S. in 2007 than any year in the nation's history, topping the peak during the baby boom 50 years earlier, researchers said Wednesday.
There is both good and bad news from the more than 4.3million births:
The U.S. population is more than replacing itself, a healthy trend.
However, the teen birth rate was up for the second year in a row.
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The birth rate rose slightly for women of all ages, and births to unwed mothers reached an all-time high of about 40 percent, continuing a trend begun years ago. More than three-quarters of these women were 20 or older.
For a variety of reasons, it's become more acceptable for women to have babies without a husband, said Duke University's Philip Morgan, a leading fertility researcher.
Even happy couples may be living together without getting married, experts say. Some cited a growing trend among all adult women to have children regardless of their marital status.
The new numbers suggest the second year of a baby boomlet, with U.S. fertility rates higher in every racial group, the highest among Hispanic women. On average, a U.S. woman has 2.1 babies in her lifetime. That's the “magic number” required for a population to replace itself.
But it's not clear the boomlet will last long. Some experts think birth rates are already declining because of the economic recession that began in late 2007.
Meanwhile, U.S. abortions have been dropping to their lowest levels in decades, according to other reports. Some have attributed the abortion decline to better use of contraceptives, but other experts have wondered if the rise in births might indicate a failure in proper use of contraceptives. Some earlier studies have shown declining availability of abortions.
Teen women tend to follow what their older sisters do, so perhaps it's not surprising that teen births are going up just like births to older women, said Sarah Brown, the chief executive for the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.
Indeed, it's harder to understand why teen births had been declining for about 15 years before the recent uptick, she said. It may have been due to a concentrated societal effort to reduce teen births in the 1990s that has waned in recent years, she said.
The statistics are based on a review of most 2007 birth certificates by the National Center for Health Statistics, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.