FARMINGTON — Births in New Mexico fell to a record low rate in 2010, and San Juan County had the fewest births in more than a decade.

New Mexico resident mothers had 27,795 births, translating to a birth rate of 13.5 per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44.

San Juan County had a significantly higher birth rate of 14.9 per 1,000 women, according to the New Mexico Department of Health. Figures for 2011 were not yet available.

Although the local birth rate was higher than elsewhere, the 1,928 births was the fewest in San Juan County since at least 2000. Local births peaked at 2,320 in 2008.

San Juan Regional spokeswoman Kathryn Pettijohn said hospital officials could not speculate on the changing birth rate.

"Our main focus is on delivering great care for moms and their babies," she said.

State figures show that the higher than average birth rate in San Juan County was largely driven by the American Indian population.

Nearly half of births in 2010 -- 905 -- were to American Indian mothers followed by 630 for white mothers and 350 for Hispanic mothers. Only 17 local births were to Asian mothers, and 11 to black mothers.

San Juan Regional Medical Centers share of those births grew to 1,292 in 2012, up slightly from 1,273 the prior year. The year 2008 marked a high of 1,403 births.

However, state and medical center numbers are not directly comparable because the state counts births by New Mexico residents regardless of where the births occur and the medical center counts all births at the hospital no matter where the mother is from.


Of all births to New Mexico residents in 2010, 98.5 percent occurred in hospitals. Medical doctors attended 65.9 percent of the births, and certified nurse midwives attended 24.2 percent of the births. In Durango, Mercy Regional Medical Center has seen a steady decline in births in recent years. There were 876 births at the hospital in 2012, down from 902 in 2011 and 1,019 in 2010.

"There's a downward trend," said Mercy spokesman David Bruzzese. The economic climate could be behind the trend, he said.

Births at both regional hospitals peaked in 2008, the year Wall Street firms went bankrupt and everything from retail sales to the real-estate market began to slide.