The 2009 figures are the lowest the state has seen in more than 60 years of recordkeeping. According to preliminary data from the Tennessee Department of Health, there were 76,739 live births in Tennessee — 10,000 fewer than the year before. The birth rate dropped from 13.9 live births per 1,000 people to a historic low of 12.4.
State and national birth rates tend to rise and fall along with the economy. The brutal recession of 2009 brought skyrocketing unemployment, slumping retail sales, a temporary slowdown at local maternity wards and a rush of new visitors to local family planning clinics.
But the worst economy in recent memory didn't stop thousands of families from welcoming new additions. And there are signs that the birth rate may be on the upswing again. At Baptist Hospital in Nashville last week, the nursery was crowded almost to capacity.
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