April 10, 2012 — The teen birth rate declined in nearly every state from 2007 through 2010, driving the nationwide rate to its lowest point since record-keeping began in 1940, according to a report released Tuesday by CDC's National Center for Health Statistics, the AP/San Francisco Chronicle reports (AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 4/10).
In 16 states, teen births declined by between 20% and 29%, according to NCHS (Wetzstein, Washington Times, 4/10). Teen birth rates fell by at least 8% in 47 states and the District of Columbia during the three years, according to the report (Beasley, Reuters, 4/10). The findings expand on data released in November 2011 that showed the nationwide teen birth rate decreased by 9% between 2009 and 2010, reaching 34.3 births per 1,000 teens (Jayson, USA Today, 4/10).
NCHS reported that Arizona had the largest decline in its teen birth rate -- 29% between 2007 and 2010 -- while rates in Montana, North Dakota and West Virginia were steady during that time period. The highest rate in 2010 was in Mississippi, with 55 births per 1,000 teens, despite a 21% decrease in teen births in the state since 2007 (AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 4/10). New Hampshire had the lowest rate at 15.7 births per 1,000 teens. Teen birth rates were higher in the South and Southwest regions, and lower in the Northeast and Upper Midwest, according to the report (Reuters, 4/10).
In total, the teen birth rate has fallen by 44% since 1991. Without the decline, there would have been 3.4 million more infants born to teens by 2010, according to the report (AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 4/10).
The report found that teen birth rates decreased for all racial and ethnic groups between 2007 and 2010. NCHS said the 2010 teen birth rates for blacks, Native Americans, and Asian and Pacific Islanders were more than 50% lower than in 1991, when the nationwide teen birth rate peaked.
In addition, teen births declined across every age group (Washington Times, 4/10).
Reasons for the Rates
Authors of the NCHS report said the decline in teen births can be attributed to pregnancy prevention efforts. They also highlighted a recent government survey that found increased use of contraceptives among teens (AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 4/10).
Bill Albert, chief program officer for the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, said the decline can be attributed to shifts in behavior. "More teens are delaying sexual activity," he said, adding, "And those teenagers who are having sex are using contraception better" (Washington Times, 4/10).
Laura Lindberg, a senior research associate at the Guttmacher Institute, also pointed to the impact of increased contraceptive use. An analysis by Lindberg that was released in December found the proportion of female teens who are sexually active has not changed in recent years, but there have been significant increases in use of contraceptives. Lindberg noted that contraceptive use at first sex "has gone up dramatically" for female teens. Her analysis also found a decrease in the percentage of teen girls "who said they wanted to get pregnant," she said, adding, "It's a very small percent, but I do think it speaks to an underlying shift in attitudes" (USA Today, 4/10).