Submitted by ub on Wed, 10/03/2012 - 07:27

U.S. births have fallen for the fourth year in a row, according to government officials who are calling it more proof that the weak economy is connected to having children.

The drop in 2011 was only 1 percent, which was not as sharp a fall-off as the 2 to 3 percent drop seen in previous years.

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

Falling births is a relatively new phenomenon in this country. Births had been on the rise since the late 1990s and hit an all-time high of more than 4.3 million in 2007. But fewer than 4 million births were counted last year — the lowest number since 1998.