Teen Birthrate Falls to Lowest in History

Teen births are at their lowest level in almost 70 years, indicates  a Federal  data report. Birthrates for ages 15-19 in all racial and ethnic groups are lower than ever reported.

“Young people are being more careful,” says Sarah Brown, CEO of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. She attributes the declines to less sex and increased use of contraception.

The report by the National Center for Health Statistics says the actual number of teen births in 2010 was the lowest since 1946. It credits “strong pregnancy prevention messages” and says contraceptive use “may have contributed.”

The analysis comes at a time when contraception is a hot political debate, from a congressional investigation of whether federal money pays for abortions to concern among some church leaders over an Obama administration mandate that all health insurance cover birth control.

The new numbers elaborate on federal data released in November that found the teen birthrate dropped 9% from 2009 to 2010, to a historic low of 34.3 births per 1,000 teens. That’s down 44% from 61.8 in 1991. The all-time high was 96.3 during the Baby Boom year of 1957.

The new analysis, based on 2010 preliminary data, shows a range in birthrates among racial and ethnic groups, from 10.9 for Asians to 23.5 for whites, 51.5 for

Laura Lindberg, a senior research associate with the non-profit Guttmacher Institute in New York in her analysis of the data found no change in the percentage of sexually active teen girls but significant increases in use of contraception, which suggests contraception is driving the numbers.

Contraceptive use the first time a girl has sex “has gone up dramatically,” she says.

That December report also noted a decline in the percentage of teenage girls “who said they wanted to get pregnant,” Lindberg says.

Mississippi has the highest teen birthrate in the nation while New Hampshire has the lowest, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.¬† Mississippi reported 55 births per 1,000 teens aged 15 to 19 in 2010, more than 60 percent above the U.S. average, according to state data released on Tuesday. New Hampshire’s rate was less half the national average at 15.7 births for the same age group.

Teen birth rates were higher in the South and Southwest and lower in the Northeast and Upper Midwest, the CDC said, noting that Hispanics and blacks had the highest teen birth rates.

Last fall the CDC reported that the U.S. teen birth rate dropped 9 percent from 2009 to 2010, reaching a historic low of 34.3 births per 1,000 teens aged 15 to 19. It attributed the drop to several factors, including strong pregnancy-prevention messages aimed at teens and increased use of contraception.