WEDNESDAY, June 23, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- The pandemic not only cost hundreds of thousands of American lives, but it also appears to have triggered a deep drop in births, U.S. health officials reported Wednesday.
Until 2020, the birth rate had been declining about 2% a year, but that rate dropped to 4% with the start of the pandemic, researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found.
"When you take that one step further and look at the decline across 2020, there were greater declines in the second half of the year — 6% versus the first part of the year [at] 2%," said report author Brady Hamilton, a statistician demographer at the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS).
"You have this decline that is larger than what we've seen in prior years and really shows some indication of the impact of the pandemic on the number of births," Hamilton said.
According to the report, the number of births dropped for each month from 2019 to 2020, with the biggest drops occurring in December (8%), August (7%), and October and November (6%).
Births declined for whites, Blacks and Hispanics alike. Births dropped in 20 states in the first half of 2020, and in all 50 states in the second half of 2020. The decline in seven states, however, was not significant.
For comparison, the birth rate from 2018 to 2019 dropped between 1% and 3%, the researchers noted.
"The big question, of course, is what's going to happen as people progress through the pandemic," Hamilton said. "What will be particularly interesting is the data for 2021 in terms of making decisions about having children."
Hamilton noted that birth rates have been declining throughout the industrialized world. In many countries, including the United States, the birth rate is below replacement level. That is, fewer people are being born to replace those dying.
Dr. Rahul Gupta, senior vice president and chief medical and health officer at the March of Dimes, wasn't surprised by the decline in births during the pandemic.
"The severity of a...