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US on verge of another baby boom?

world Updated: Jul 18, 2008 17:46 IST

More babies were born in the United States last year than any other year in history, pointing to a potential start of a new baby boom like the one that followed World War II.

A record number of 4,315,000 babies were born in the US last year, nearly the double of those born a century ago, the National Centre for Health Statistics said.

"It's a record, and it's a particularly interesting record because the year it beats is 1957, which was the height of the baby boom," Robert Engelman, author of "More: Population, Nature and What Women Want, was quoted a saying by ABC.

"This is the first year that we've actually beat the baby boom," Engelman, who is vice president for programmes at the Worldwatch Institute based in Washington, DC, said.

Today's population trends, ABC News said, are remarkable when you think of the conditions that led to the Baby Boom.

Historians attribute the 1950s-era boom to the carefree prosperity of those post-war years, which today seem like a distant memory.

"So with gas prices soaring, housing prices faltering and the economy in a tailspin, America's propensity to procreate now may seem odd," it said.

"In the '50s, the average woman was having close to four children. Now she's having close to two," Engelman said.

The overall population is nearly double of what it was in the '50s, which means even though parents are having fewer children, the numbers add up.

There's been an uptick in the number of women having children later in their lives, whether as a career choice or with the help of technology.

Among women in their 40s, the birth rate has doubled since the 1990s and quadrupled since the 1980s, ABC News said. Childbirth among unmarried women is at record-high levels, too.

But the biggest factor contributing to the current baby boom, demographers were quoted a saying, is immigration.

The birth rate is rising fastest among Hispanic immigrants in particular, far outpacing the 2.1 average births per woman.