This review summarizes current vital statistics obtained from birth and death certificates for US residents. Patterns and trends were assessed according to age, race/ethnicity, and other characteristics. Infant mortality was defined as death at age younger than 1 year, and infant mortality rates (IMRs) were computed. Neonatal mortality rates (NMRs) were determined for infant deaths at age younger than 28 days, and postneonatal mortality rates (PNMRs) included infant deaths at 28 days to less than 1 year of age.
In 2011, 3,953,593 births were recorded, 1% and 4% fewer than in 2010 and 2009, respectively. The crude birth rate was 12.7 births/1000 total population in 2011, the lowest rate ever. The general fertility rate decreased to a record low of 63.2 in 2011 compared with 64.1 in 2010. Birth rates declined among women aged 15 to 29 years and reached historic lows for those aged 15 to 19 and 20 to 24 years, whereas rates increased for women aged 35 to 39 and 40 to 44 years. The teenage birth rate decreased by 8% from 2010 to 2011 and was at an all-time low of 31.3 births/1000 women. Birth rates for teenagers 15 to 17 and 18 to 19 years old decreased by 11% and 7% from 2010 to 2011 (15.4/1000 and 54.1/1000, respectively, in 2011). The teenage birth rate fell by 49% from 1991 through 2011. The rate for women aged 30 to 34 years was unchanged from 2010 to 2011 at 96.5 births/1000, whereas the birth rate for women aged 35 to 39 years increased by 3% in 2011 to 47.2/1000 from 45.9/1000 women in 2010. The birth rate for women aged 40 to 44 years increased by 1% in 2011 to 10.3/1000 from 10.2/1000 women in 2010. The birth rate for women aged 45 to 49 years was unchanged at 0.7 for 2011 and 2010.
The cesarean delivery rate remained at 32.8% in 2011 compared with 2010, after a steady increase from 1996 to 2009. In 2010, the twin birth rate declined to 33.1 twins/1000 total births from 33.2 in 2009. The twin birth rate increased by 76% overall from 1980 to 2009. The triplet/+ rate was 137.6/100,000 total births in 2010 compared with 153.5 in 2009, a decrease of 10%. In 2011, the preterm birth rate was 11.7% compared with 12.0% in 2010. The early preterm percentage birth rate declined from 3.5% to 3.4%, and the late preterm rate from 8.5% to 8.3%.
In 2011, 23,910 infant deaths were reported. The IMRs, NMRs, and PNMRs were, respectively, 6.05, 4.04, and 2.01 deaths/1000 live births. Over the whole period, the IMR, NMR, and PNMR each decreased by ∼13%; for 2011, however, only the PNMR (2.01) was lower than the 2010 rate (2.10). In 2011, 56.4% of all infant deaths were due to congenital malformations, deformations, and chromosomal abnormalities (20.8%); disorders related to short gestation and low birth weight (17.2%); sudden infant death syndrome (7.2%); newborn affected by maternal complications of pregnancy (6.6%); and accidents (4.6%). These 5 leading causes of infant death were the same in 2010.
Vital statistics are essential for monitoring the health of a population. The value of the data will improve through efforts to advance data quality, especially that for health and medical information. Multiple strategies by various state and federal agencies and associations are being developed and implemented to assess and improve data quality.
Division of Vital Statistics, National Center for Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Hyattsville (B.E.H., D.L.H., J.A.M.); and Department of Population and Family Health Sciences, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore (D.M.S., B.G.), MD