Baby bust continues: US births down for 4th year

NEW YORK (AP) - Experts say the weak economy has a lot to do with the latest drop in the annual U.S. birth rate, dampening enthusiasm for starting or adding to the family.

The government says births fell for the fourth year in a row but the decline in 2011 was just 1 percent. It was 2 to 3 percent in other recent years.

A demographer in Washington says this could suggest that "the effect of the recession is slowly coming to an end."

Most striking in the new report were steep declines in Hispanic birth rates and a new low in teen births. Experts say Hispanics have been disproportionately affected by the flagging economy and teen birth rates have been falling for 20 years.

Births had been on the rise between the late 1990s and the all-time high of more than 4.3 million in 2007.

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