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Economy Giving U.S. Women Pause About Motherhood?

Posted Aug 27 2010 3:35pm

Friday, August 27, 2010
  Reuters Health Information Logo

A pregnant woman stands on a scale before receiving a prenatal exam at the Maternity Outreach Mobile in Phoenix, Arizona October 8, 2009. REUTERS/Joshua Lott

By Julie Steenhuysen

CHICAGO (Reuters) - U.S. birth rates in 2009 declined for the second straight year, a sign the economy may be causing some women to think twice about having children, U.S. health officials said on Friday.

Estimates from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show 4,136,000 children were born in 2009, down 2.6 percent from the 2008 estimate.

That followed a similar decline in 2008, the start of the economic downturn that has yet to abate. The CDC said the 2009 numbers are preliminary and could change.

"We saw a decline in 2008 and 2009. The timing is very consistent with saying it is associated with the recession and the economy in general," Paul Sutton of the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics said in a telephone interview.

More details on the demographics of mothers who gave birth in 2009 are needed to confirm the connection, Sutton said.

"It may be a simple postponement and once the recession is over, they have children. On the other hand, we really don't know. It may be a longer-term attitude change," Sutton said.

A preliminary analysis of births in 2008 showed they dropped for women of all ages under 40, but rose for women 40 and over.

"There's two things ... that might keep rates increasing in older women where younger women might postpone the decision to have children," Sutton said.

He said women in their 40s may be more financially secure and they may believe their time to have children is running out as they approach the end of their fertile years.

(Editing by Jerry Norton)

Reuters Health

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