According to new a report release by the National Center for Health Statistics, fertility rates in the United States are continuing to decline and we have now reached a point where the number of new babies born is below what’s needed for the population to replace itself.
For the population to be able to replace itself, the “total fertility rate” needs to be 2,100 births per 1,000 women of childbearing age over their lifetime. But, according to the new report, the total fertility rate in 2017 was 1,765.5 births per 1,000 women. In 2016, it was 1,820.5 births per 1,000 women. The total fertility rate has been declining for the past seven years, but the 2017 numbers show the biggest drop in recent history.
While this information may sound grim, it it not necessarily a picture of doom. Fertility rates were bound to decline after the peak rates that were seen during the time of the baby boom generation. So, this is not unexpected news. In addition, year after year, we have been seeing a decline in teenage pregnancies. That’s a good thing.
Another major reason why pregnancy rates have fallen is that women are pursuing advanced education and focusing on their careers. Many women are now starting their families at an older age, which means that by the time they are ready to have a second and/or third child, it becomes much more difficult to conceive.
Many women do not realize that fertility significantly declines with age and that fertility treatments become less successful as women get older. That is why, in my opinion, what we need to take away from this report is that there needs to be better public education about how fertility declines with age and women need to be aware of their fertility preservation options. For instance, for women who want to delay childbearing, they should be educated about egg freezing. This is an option that may be able to help them have families in the future when they are ready.
If you are a woman of reproductive age and are not quite ready to start a family, you may want to take it upon yourself to speak with your doctor about options for fertility preservation. This could be the best thing you do to protect your chances of having a family in the future.