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CDC: U.S. Teen Birth Rates Down Significantly Since 1950s

CDC: U.S. Teen Birth Rates Down Significantly Since 1950s

August 21, 2014 — With a few exceptions, the U.S. teen birth rate has been generally declining for more than a half-century, according to a report from CDC's National Center for Health Statistics, USA Today reports.

Specifically, compared with a peak of 96.3 births per 1,000 teens in 1957, the rate had fallen to 26.6 births per 1,000 teens in 2013, based on preliminary data (Jayson, USA Today, 8/20).

The report analyzed trends in teen birth rates from 1940 through 2013, with a focus on the years since 1991 (Ventura et al., CDC report, 8/20).

According to CDC, declines in teen births between 1991 and 2013 can be attributed to less sexual activity among teens and increased use of contraception.

Rates Vary by Age, Race, State

The report also noted that trends varied among various groups and states.

For example, although birth rates declined across all teen age brackets from 1991 to 2013, the rate among girls ages 15 to 17 dropped the most, by 68%. By comparison, the rate decreased by 50% over the same time period among girls 18 to 19.

Similarly, rates among all racial groups decreased, with the greatest declines among Asian-Pacific Islanders -- 64% -- and non-Hispanic blacks -- 63%. Hispanic teens had the highest birth rate, but it has declined by 39% since 2007.

By state, birth rates were lowest in the Northeast and highest in the South. New Hampshire recorded the lowest rate at 13.8 births per 1,000 teens, and New Mexico had the highest at 47.5 per 1,000.

Implications

The U.S. teen birth rate ranks among the highest of developed countries, but the decline has resulted in four million fewer teen births since 1991, according to the report.

The lower rates also saved taxpayers about $12 billion in 2010, CDC said (Millman, "Wonkblog," Washington Post, 8/20).

Washington Post's 'Storyline' Examines Colo. Policies for Pregnant Teens

In related news, the Washington Post's "Storyline" examines how Colorado's family planning policies have improved teens' access to long-acting reversible contraceptives and helped to lower its teen birth rates.

"Between 2007 and 2012, Colorado saw the highest percentage drop in birth rates among teens 15 to 19 in the country," while "[a]bortion rates in the state among teens fell 35 percent between 2009 and 2012," according to "Storyline."

The Colorado Family Planning Initiative, which is supported by an anonymous donation, provides intrauterine devices and implants at family planning clinics in the state. A state analysis attributed three-quarters of state's decline in teen birth rates to the initiative. Another program -- called the Colorado Adolescent Maternity Program, or CAMP -- allows low-income teens who have just given birth to receive long-acting reversible contraceptives before leaving the hospital (Griego [1], "Storyline," Washington Post, 8/20).

In a separate piece, "Storyline" also profiles CAMP, which aims to achieve better pregnancy outcomes by focusing on pregnant teens' physical and mental health. The CAMP clinic is located at Children's Hospital Colorado and serves about 500 pregnant teens and women ages 14 to 22 annually. The state's Medicaid program covers the cost of the care (Griego [2], "Storyline," Washington Post, 8/20).