Record Drops in Teen Birth Rate

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New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) finds that teen birth rates have dropped from 2007 to 2011. The NCHS states that the decline is especially pronounced among Hispanic teens, who saw their birth rates decline by more than 40 percent in 22 states over the timeframe.

All but two states -- North Dakota and West Virginia -- experienced teen birth rates declining by at least 15 percent over the five-year window, researchers stated. In all, seven states experienced total teen birth rate decreases in excess of 30 percent, per the latest NCHS estimates.

Nationally, researchers state that Hispanic teenagers recorded the largest decrease in births by ethnicity, with the population’s average birth rate dwindling by 34 percent from 2007 to 2011. In just five years time, the NCHS said that teen birth rates for the population had decreased by at least 30 percent in 37 states.

During the same period, teen birth rates for black teens dropped by a quarter, while the rate for white teens decreased by a fifth. The largest declines, researchers stated, occurred primarily in the Deep South, on the West Coast and a bloc of “Mountain states” consisting of Colorado, Utah and Nevada.

The total national birth rate decrease -- a fall from 41.5 births per 1,000 teenagers, ages 15-19, in 2007 to just 31.3 percent in 2011 -- represents a record low according to the NCHS. Researchers said that the decline may be attributed to stronger teen pregnancy prevention campaigns and increased use of contraception among young people.

“The recent declines in teen childbearing are sustained, widespread and broad-based,” the report concludes. “If teen birth rates by age and race and Hispanic origin of mother had remained at their 1991 levels, an estimated 3.6 million more births to teenagers would have occurred from 1992 through 2011.”

Illustration Credit: Hector Casanova / MCT Direct