U.S. Teen Birth Rates Tumble to Record Low


From Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report

Teen birth rates in the United States fell by 37% over the past 2 decades, reaching the lowest rate ever recorded, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Despite those promising data, “we still have a ways to go to improve our teen birth rate to reflect what is seen in other parts of the world,” Ursula Bauer, Ph.D., director of the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, said in a teleconference.

The birth rate for girls aged 15–19 years in 2008 and 2009 was 39 per 1,000 girls in the United States, Dr. Bauer and Dr. Wanda Barfield, director of the division of reproductive health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, wrote in the report, which was published in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (2011;60:1–8).

However, teen birth rates in the United States are as much as nine times higher than in many other developed countries. Teen birth rates for 2008–2009 were 27 per 1,000 in Great Britain, 10 per 1,000 in Germany and France, and 6 per 1,000 in Sweden and Denmark.

The researchers, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reviewed National Vital Statistics System data from 1991 to 2009 on teen birth rates, as well as National Youth Risk Behavior Survey data on sexual activity and contraceptive use. They also reviewed data on sex education and the use of reproductive health services for teens aged 15–19 years from the 2006–2008 National Survey of Family Growth.

In 2009, teen birth rates were lowest in the Northeastern and upper Midwestern states and highest in the Southern states. The states with the lowest birth rates – Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and Vermont – posted rates ranging from 16 to 23 births per 1,000 girls aged 15–19 years. The states with the highest rates – Arkansas, Mississippi, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas – had rates ranging from 59 to 64 births per 1,000 girls aged 15–19 years.

The number of teens having sex declined across white, black, and Hispanic ethnicities for both boys and girls, but black and Hispanic girls remained at least twice as likely as white girls to become teen mothers. Approximately 46% of teens in the United States have had sexual intercourse – down from 54% in 1991 – and 12% of those teens used no contraception, down from 16% in 1991.

“Health care providers have a key role to play in bringing down teen birth rates and teen pregnancy rates,” said Dr. Bauer. “Talking to teens, both boys and girls, about sexual health and reproductive health, and talking about available contraception, is very important for health care providers in their encounters with teens,” she said.

According to a CDC fact sheet, health care providers can help reduce the teen birth rate in the United States by making more birth control options available to sexually active teens, including long-acting methods such as IUDs, and by educating teens about the proper use of birth control options, including condoms and oral contraceptives.

For the complete MMWR Vital Signs report on teen birth rates, visit


Source Elsevier Global Medical News

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