Teen Birthrate Drops to Lowest on Record

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Births to teenagers in 2009 dropped 6 percent, reversing two years of increases that interrupted years of decline, according to preliminary data released today by the National Center for Health Statistics.  The 2009 teen birth rate was the lowest since records began to be kept in 1940, with declines in all age groups.

In addition, the birthrate for the youngest teens, those ages 10 to 14, dropped to the lowest rate ever.

The teen birth rate reflects an overall trend in 2009, the latest year for which records are available.  The nation’s overall birth rate dropped 3 percent in 2009 and early counts of 2010 show a continued lower rate of births, the researchers said.

The birthrate for teens 15 to 19 dropped to 39.1 per 1,000 girls in that age group, down from 41.5 per 1,000 in 2008 and 8 percent lower than in 2007. The birthrate for this group is down 37 percent from its peak in 1991.

For girls 10 to 14, the birthrate for 2009 was 0.4 per 1,000 girls in that age group, down from 0.5 per 1,000 in 2008, according to the researchers’ report.

The birthrates also dropped across all ethnic groups with one of the largest drop occurring among Hispanic girls 15 to 19, with a 10 percent drop since 2008.  The birthrate of 70.1 births per 1,000 Hispanic girls in that age group was the lowest it has been since separate records on Hispanic began to be kept in 1990. The birthrates for Asian Pacific Islanders also dropped by 10 percent.

The birth rate for unmarried woman dropped 4 percent, the first decline among unmarried women since 2001-2002. But the proportion of births to unmarried women rose to 41 percent in 2009, up from 40.6 percent in 2008. Teenagers accounted for 21 percent of all nonmarital births in 2009, continuing a decline over the past several decades. In 1975, unmarried teens accounted for 52 percent of nonmarital births.

The preterm birthrate and the rate of low birthweight babies also declined, while the percentage of cesarean birth climbed to 32.9 percent.

To read the entire report, click here.