The number of births in the United States decreased between 2007 and 2008 (preliminary estimate: 4 251 095). Birth rates declined among all women aged 15 to 39 years; the decrease among teenagers reverses the increases seen in the previous 2 years. The total fertility rate decreased 2% in 2008 to 2085.5 births per 1000 women. The proportion of all births to unmarried women increased to 40.6% in 2008, up from 39.7% in 2007. The 2008 preterm birth rate was 12.3%, a decline of 3% from 2007. In 2008, 32.3% of all births occurred by cesarean delivery, up nearly 2% from 2007. Twin and triplet birth rates were unchanged. The infant mortality rate was 6.59 infant deaths per 1000 live births in 2008 (significantly lower than the rate of 6.75 in 2007). Life expectancy at birth was 77.8 years in 2008. Crude death rates for children aged 1 to 19 years decreased by 5.5% between 2007 and 2008. Unintentional injuries and homicide were, respectively, the first and second leading causes of death in this age group. These 2 causes of death jointly accounted for 51.2% of all deaths of children and adolescents in 2008. This annual article is a long-standing feature in Pediatrics and provides a summary of the most current vital statistics data for the United States. We also include a special feature this year on the differences in cesarean-delivery rates according to race and Hispanic origin.

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