CDC: U.S. seeing increase in birth rate

The longtime decrease in babies being born in the United States turned around in 2021.
Published: Jan. 31, 2023 at 12:53 PM EST
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SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - The longtime decrease in babies being born in the United States turned around in 2021. New statistics shared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show the number of pregnancies were up that year.

“Right now, we are definitely seeing an increase at Baystate Medical Center,” said Dr. Heather Sankey, an OB/GYN with Baystate Health.

Baystate Health is seeing an increase in women getting pregnant. That mirrors what the CDC is reporting nationwide. A rise in pregnancies for the year 2021 is reversing a longtime downward trend. Sankey told us how the COVID-19 pandemic factors into this.

“Well, you might be seeing now that, after two years of everybody being shut in and then reopening, it sort of gives the people a feeling of hope. We often see more people getting pregnant in the spring when the weather is warm and you start to have the feeling of optimism,” Sankey explained.

According to the CDC, pregnancies in women ages 15 to 24 has declined, while pregnancies in women ages 25 to 44 has increased. Sankey told us there has been an increase in older mothers at Baystate as well.

“We have quite a few in their early 40s right now and some of that is actually, in the three years of the pandemic, there was real delays in terms of infertility treatments, when lack of surgeries were shut down, and hospitals were full and so people got pushed a little bit later from that,” Sankey noted.

Also, the CDC reported that cesarean delivery rates increased 32.1 percent in 2021. Sankey said in western Massachusetts, there is a high portion of midwife assisted births and that results in a lower number of C-sections. However, she said C-sections are helpful for mothers who catch COVID-19 while pregnant.

“There is no question though, with COVID, it would increase the C-section rate because mother was sick and baby would struggle and we would end up doing a C-section for the sake of the baby and it caused part of the bump too,” Sankey said.

The preterm birth rate has risen as well from four percent to 10.49 percent.

“Knowing that we can care for them, rather than trying to keep someone pregnant when they are getting sicker,” Sankey added.