How Low Can Orange County's Birth Rate Go?

Orange County's birth rate over the past decade declined substantially more than the state and the nation, according to an Orange County Health Care Agency (OCHCA) report.

The national birth date dipped 10 percent from 2000-10, the state's dropped 12 percent and Orange County's plummeted 23 percent, with 16.5 births per 1,000 population in 2000 falling to 12.7 per 1,000 in 2010.


It's as if OC started the decade's dipping trend, in 2004, that the rest of the state and nation would begin to follow four years later with the Great Recession. It's all the more startling when you consider our county went into 2000 with a higher birth rate than the national and state averages.

The OCHCA report also shows county officials are meeting nearly all of their healthy-birth goals. The only category out of seven in which the county is not meeting its goals is with “repeat cesarean deliveries to low-risk mothers,” according to the report.

“We are very pleased that Orange County has achieved six of the seven Healthy People 2020 goals related to births,” County Health Officer Dr. Eric Handler reportedly told City News Service. “But there is still more to do in reducing health disparities within our community. These successes notwithstanding, it is important for providers in the community to remain vigilant in order to maintain and improve on these areas.”

Other key report findings:

* Nearly one in three new mothers in Orange County lived in Santa Ana and Anaheim. Those two cities had the highest birth rates with 19.2 births per 1,000 residents in Santa Ana and 16.3 births per 1,000 residents in Anaheim.

* No duh: The retirement community of Laguna Woods had the lowest birth rate of 0.3 per 1,000 residents.

* In 2010, half of the births were to mothers of Latino heritage with a birth rate of 18.7 per 1,000 population. Next was Asian/Pacific Islanders at 12.1 per 1,000 population, blacks at 11.1 per 1,000 population and whites at 8.8 per 1,000 population.

* Orange County started with a lower adolescent birth rate of 38.3 in 2000 and has experienced the largest drop of 42 percent for a 10-year low of 22.4 births per 1,000 females 15-19 years of age.

* Adolescent mothers to a larger degree live in Santa Ana and not in the more affluent cities. In 2010, there were 53.5 births per 1,000 females 15-19 years of age in Santa Ana and zero adolescent births in Villa Park and Laguna Woods, 1.9 in Newport Beach, 2.9 in Seal Beach and 2.4 in Irvine. Eight other north and central county cities joined Santa Ana in exceeding the countywide 22.4 rate in 2010.

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