Fewer teens ages 15 to 19 gave birth in 2010 than at any point in the past 70 years, according to a report released Tuesday. Federal experts credit a strong prevention message for that low birth rate.
Among the highlights of the report by the National Center for Health Statistics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
The U.S. teen birth rate fell 9 percent between 2009 and 2010, to a low of 34.3 births per 1,000 among those aged 15–19. That's a decline of 44 percent since 1991.
Not only was the birth rate lower, but the actual number of babies born to teens was the lowest since 1946.
Teen birth rates fell in all but three states — Montana, North Dakota and West Virginia — 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 birth rates are higher among Hispanics than the other racial groups.
Still, the United States has one of the highest teen birth rates among industrialized countries and teen births come at a high price. That includes more health risks for teen mothers and their infants and high public costs, estimated at $10.9 billion annually, the CDC says.
"Young people are being more careful," Sarah Brown, CEO of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, told USA Today. It said she credits less sex and increased use of contraception for the declines. Wrote Sharon Jayson, "Brown says a variety of societal and cultural factors may play a role in teens' behavior shifts, as diverse as the recession and reality TV shows on teen mothers. But all seem to lead teens to the message 'postpone your families until you're through school and a little more grown up.'"
The birth rates for U.S. teens across racial and ethnic groups ranged from 10.9 for Asians to 23.5 for whites, 51.5 for blacks and 55.7 for Hispanics in 2010. Across all groups, the high was reached in 1957 with 96.3 births per 1,000 teens.
A story on CBS News looked at state highlights. It said the biggest drop was in Arizona, at 29 percent. "The highest rate once more was in Mississippi, with 55 births per 1,000 women aged 15-19, though its rate has also continued to fall, dropping 21 percent over three years," it said. New Hampshire has the lowest teen birth rate in the nation at nearly 16. Utah was at No. 36, with 27.9.
The South and Southwest typically have the highest teen birth rates, while the Northeast and Upper Midwest tend to have the lowest.
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