WASHINGTON - For the first time in the United States, the number of non-white babies being born outnumbers the number of white babies.
Hispanics, blacks, Asians and other minorities accounted for 50.4 per cent of births in the 12 months to July 2011, new census figures show.
That compares to just 37 per cent in 1990 and 49.5 per cent in April 2010.
Social scientists say the change reflects a wave of immigration in recent decades.
"This is a sign that the future is here," said Vanessa Cardenas, director of the Progress 2050 program at the Centre for American Progress, a liberal think tank in Washington.
"It adds urgency to the fact that we need investment in communities that are growing the most."
Minority groups are already in the majority in California, Hawaii, New Mexico, Texas and Washington DC.
Whites still made up the largest single share of the total births, at 49.6 per cent.
They also constituted a majority of the overall population of the United States at 63.4 per cent.
But as the Census Bureau projected in 2008, they will no longer be in the majority by 2042.
"I think it is historic, both literally and figuratively," said Isabel Sawhill, co-director of the Centre on Children and Families at the Brookings Institution think tank in Washington.
"It means we are going to have to work harder to make sure that all children get a good education, regardless of their racial or ethnic background, so that we can remain a strong country."