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Friday, June 17, 2011 - 12:30pm

Georgia's Birth Rate Falls

Georgia’s birth rate is continuing to drop, mirroring a national trend and reflecting the still-sagging economy.

Early data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show Georgia’s rate fell 5 percent last year, slightly faster than the nation’s 3 percent drop. The national birth rate peaked in 2007 and has been falling since.

CDC officials said many women are holding off having kids during a sluggish economy.

Georgia Health Sciences University obstetrician Lawrence Devoe agreed, saying also that fewer women with fertility issues are seeking expensive alternatives.

“Patients who are seeking assisted fertility, that’s a growing number of our patients,” said Devoe, a professor emeritus in the university’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. “[Seeking treatment for fertility issues is] a very strongly economically driven situation.”

Devoe said another factor in the decline likely was greater focus on encouraging contraceptive use among teens.

But he said he expects more detailed data to show not everyone is having fewer kids.

“I would be surprised if that trend was reflected in the Hispanic population,” Devoe said. “Because it’s still a minority group in the United States, even a rise in that group might not be enough to offset declines in white and African American patients.”

Hispanics generally have more children than other ethnic groups.

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