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The U.S. teen birth rate declined 9 percent from 2009 to 2010, reaching a historic low at 34.3 births per 1,000 women aged 15-19, according to figures released by the CDC.
The rate dropped 44 percent from 1991 through 2010.
Among other findings:
* Teen birth rates by age and race and Hispanic origin were lower in 2010 than ever reported in the United States.
* Fewer babies were born to teenagers in 2010 than in any year since 1946. If the teen birth rates observed in 1991 had not declined through 2010 as they did, there would have been an estimated 3.4 million additional births to teens during 1992-2010.
* Teen birth rates fell in all but three states during 2007-2010. Teen birth rates by state vary significantly, reflecting in part differences in the population composition of states by race and Hispanic origin.
Teen childbearing has been generally on a long-term decline in the United States since the late 1950s. In spite of these declines, the U.S. teen birth rate remains one of the highest among other industrialized countries.
Moreover, childbearing by teenagers continues to be a matter of public concern because of the elevated health risks for teen mothers and their infants.
In addition, significant public costs are associated with teen childbearing, estimated at $10.9 billion annually. The most current data available from the National Vital Statistics System (NVSS), the 2010 preliminary file, are used to illustrate the recent trends and variations in teen childbearing:
* The number of babies born to women aged 15-19 was 367,752 in 2010, a 10-percent decline from 2009 (409,802), and the fewest reported in more than 60 years (322,380 in 1946)
* The 2010 total of births to teenagers was 43 percent lower than the peak recorded in 1970 (644,708).
* Rates declined by 9 percent for non-Hispanic white and non-Hispanic black teenagers, by 12 percent for American Indian or Alaska Native (AIAN) and Hispanic teenagers, and by 13 percent for Asian or Pacific Islander (API) teenagers from 2009 to 2010.
* Rates in 2010 ranged from 10.9 per 1,000 API to 23.5 for non-Hispanic white teenagers, 38.7 for AIAN, 51.5 for non-Hispanic black, and 55.7 for Hispanic teenagers.
* The impact of the decline in the teen birth rate on the number of births to teenagers over the nearly two-decade period, 1992-2010, is substantial. If the 1991 rates had continued to prevail from 1992 through 2010, there would have been an additional 3.4 million births to women aged 15-19 in the United States (with nearly 1 million of those additional births occurring between 2008 and 2010).
* These estimated additional births also take into account the rise in the female teen population as well as changes in the female teen population composition during this period. From 1992 through 2010, the population of teenagers grew 28 percent overall, while the Hispanic teen population increased 110 percent. By comparison, the number of non-Hispanic white teenagers increased 8 percent and non-Hispanic black teenagers increased 37 percent.
* Rates fell by at least 8 percent in 47 states and the District of Columbia. Declines in 16 states ranged from 20 percent to 29 percent.
* Rates did not change significantly in Montana, North Dakota, and West Virginia.
* The birth rate for teenagers ranged from 15.7 in New Hampshire to 55.0 in Mississippi in 2010
* Rates tended to be highest in the South and Southwest and lowest in the Northeast and Upper Midwest, a pattern that has persisted for many years
* Some of the variation across states reflects variation in population composition within states by race and Hispanic origin
The widespread significant declines in teen childbearing that began after 1991 have strengthened in recent years. The teen birth rate dropped 17 percent from 2007 through 2010, a record low, and 44 percent from 1991.
Rates fell across all teen age groups, racial and ethnic groups, and nearly all states. The drop in the U.S. rate has importantly affected the number of births to teenagers.
If the 1991 rates had prevailed through the years 1992-2010, there would have been an estimated 3.4 million additional births to teenagers during that period.
The impact of strong pregnancy prevention messages directed to teenagers has been credited with the birth rate declines. Recently released data from the National Survey of Family Growth, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), have shown increased use of contraception at first initiation of sex and use of dual methods of contraception (that is, condoms and hormonal methods) among sexually active female and male teenagers.
These trends may have contributed to the recent birth rate declines.
Published: May 10, 2012 - Volume 11 - Issue 04