- Associated Press - Thursday, May 29, 2014

NEW YORK (AP) - The baby recession may be at an end: After a five-year span in which the number of children born in the United States dropped each year, 2013 saw a minute increase.

According to a new government report, the number of babies born last year rose by about 4,700, the first annual increase since 2007.

It’s a “very, very, very slight” increase, said the lead author of the new report, Brady Hamilton of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Experts have been blaming the downward trend mainly on the nation’s economy, which was in recession from 2007 to 2009 and wobbly for at least two years after that. Many couples had money problems and felt they couldn’t afford to start or add to their family, they believe.

Now the economy has picked up and so has child-bearing, at least in women ages 30 and older - the teen birth rate dropped sharply once again, and birth rates still fell for women in in their 20s.

Falling deliveries was a relatively new phenomenon in this country. Births were on the rise since the late 1990s and hit an all-time high of more than 4.3 million in 2007. Then came the drop attributed to the nation’s flagging economy.

Both the number of births and birth rate fell fairly dramatically through 2010. Then the declines became smaller. In 2012, the number of births was only a few hundred less than in 2011.

Last year’s tally was a little under 4 million.

The nation also may be seeing a more pronounced shift to having children a bit later in life, said Rob Stephenson, an Emory University demographer focused on reproductive health. That follows a trend western Europe experienced more than a decade ago, he said.

“Maybe the new norm is having children in your 30s,” he said.

The birth rate for women in their early 30s inched up in 2012 for the first time since 2007. It rose again in 2013, by 1 percent. The birth rates for women in their late 30s and early 40s rose by 3 percent and 1 percent, respectively.

Some of these older moms probably were women who put off having kids a few years ago, when money was tighter, but now are responding to their biological clocks, said John Santelli, a Columbia University professor of population and family health.

“At some point, you can’t wait any longer,” he said.

But he also agreed that it’s become more common for women to pursue education and career goals through their 20s and delay starting families until later.

The CDC report is based on a review of more than 99 percent of U.S. birth certificates from 2012. The government released the report Thursday.

Story Continues →