NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Health Trends Among The Newly Born

February 20, 2001

The percentage of babies being born either premature or underweight has risen, according to a study based on data from the National Center for Health Statistics. For instance, the proportion of low birth-weight babies increased from 7 percent to 8 percent.

The analysis was undertaken by the organizations Child Trends and Kids Count. Among the reasons experts cite for these trends are the increasing incidence of twin and triplet pregnancies due to women using fertility drugs, and the increasing use of drugs to induce labor.

Among the other developments noted in the study:

  • From 1990 to 1998, the proportion of mothers getting late or no prenatal care dropped from 6 percent to 4 percent.
  • The share of teens giving birth to a second child declined from 24 percent to 22 percent.
  • Births to mothers with fewer than 12 years of education also eased from 24 percent to 22 percent.

Births to unwed mothers increased from 28 percent to 33 percent -- but most of the increase occurred in the period 1990 to 1994. Births to teen mothers stayed at 13 percent over the 1990-98 period.

Source: Karen S. Peterson, "Babies Get an Uneven Healthy Start Across USA," USA Today, February 20, 2001.

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