Annual Summary of Vital Statistics - 2003

Joyce A. Martin, Kenneth D. Kochanek, Donna M. Strobino, Bernard Guyer, Marian F. MacDorman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

217 Scopus citations


The crude birth rate rose slightly in 2003 to 14.1 births per 1000 population, from 13.9 in 2002. The 2002 rate was the lowest ever reported for the United States. The total number of births and the fertility rate (66.1) also increased. The birth rate for teenaged mothers dropped 3% to another record low in 2003, to 41.7 per 1000 females aged 15 to 19 years. The teenage birth rate has fallen by one third since 1991. The birth rate declined for women 20 to 24 years old but rose for women aged 25 to 44 years. The number, rate, and proportion of births to unmarried women all increased in 2003. Smoking during pregnancy declined to 11%, down from 19.5% in 1989. Prenatal care utilization improved slightly for 2003; 84.1% of women began care in the first trimester of pregnancy. The cesarean delivery rate jumped 6% to 27.6% for another US high. The primary cesarean rate rose 6%, and the rate of vaginal birth after a previous cesarean delivery plummeted 16% from 2002 to 2003. The percent of infants delivered preterm continued to rise (12.3% in 2003). The preterm birth rate is up 16% since 1990. The percentage of children born at low birth weight rose slightly in 2003 to the highest level reported since 1970 (7.9%). The twinning rate increased, but the rate for triplet/+ births declined slightly between 2001 and 2002. Multiple births accounted for 3.3% of all births in 2002. The infant mortality rate rose to 7.0/1000 live births in 2002 from 6.8 in 2001, marking the first increase in this rate in >4 decades. Increases were distributed fairly widely across age, racial/ethnic groups, and geographic areas. The rise in infant mortality was attributed to increases in <750-g births in both singleton and multiple deliveries. Although the downward trend in infant mortality rates in many developed nations may have stabilized, the United States still ranked 27th among these nations in 2001. Expectation of life at birth reached a record high of 77.3 years for all gender and race groups combined in 2002. Death rates in the United States continue to decline. Between 2001 and 2002, death rates declined for the 3 leading causes of death: diseases of heart, malignant neoplasms, and cerebrovascular diseases. Death rates for children 1 to 19 years old decreased by 8% for suicide; the death rate for chronic lower respiratory diseases increased by 33% in 2002. Rates for unintentional injuries and homicide did not change significantly for children aged 1 to 19 years. A large proportion of childhood deaths continues to occur as a result of preventable injuries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)619-634
Number of pages16
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Birth
  • Birth weight-specific mortality
  • Death
  • Infant mortality
  • Low birth weight
  • Mortality
  • Multiple births
  • Revised populations
  • Vital statistics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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