Teen Birth Rate Rises

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The birth rate among American teens (ages 15 to 19) rose 3 percent between 2005 and 2006 – the first increase since 1991 – according to statistics released in Decmeber by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The increase, from 40.5 births per 1,000 to 41.9 births per 1,000, follows a 14-year downward trend that saw the rate fall by 34 percent from its all-time high of 61.8 births per 1,000 in 1991.

The statistics are featured in a new report, “Births: Preliminary Data for 2006,” prepared by CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics.

The rate among non-Hispanic black teens increased 5 percent in 2006. The rate rose 4 percent among American Indian teens, 3 percent among non-Hispanic white teens and 2 percent among Hispanic teens. The rate for Asian teens continued to decline, as did the rate for teens ages 10 to 14.

While officials say the change in direction is “notable,” they caution against reading too much into it.

“We have just one year of data showing this increase,” Stephanie Ventura, head of the Reproductive Statistics Branch at the CDC, said on the CDC’s website. “It could be the start of a new trend, or it could be just a one-year interruption in the long-term decline. It will take some time before we can piece together what the factors might be.”

Advocates of comprehensive sex education and abstinence-only sex education both said the new data support their approach.

The report is available at http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr56/nvsr56_07.pdf.