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After years of decline, U.S. births leveling off?

ATLANTA — After falling four years in a row, U.S. births may finally be leveling off.

The number of babies born last year — a little shy of 4 million — is only a few hundred less than the number in 2011, according to a government report released Friday.

That suggests that lately, fewer couples may be scared away from having children because of the economy or other factors, some experts say. Among the signs of a possible turning point: The birth rate for women in their early 30s inched up for the first time since 2007.

"We may be on level course or potentially even see a rise" in birth trends in the near future, said Brady Hamilton, a statistician with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Some are a bit more pessimistic.


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