October 21, 2010

U.S. Teenage Birth Rates Fall

Teenagers in the U.S. are having fewer babies, a government agency revealed Wednesday.

The birth rates amongst 15- to 19-year-old girls were highest in the southern states, with rates in Arkansas, Mississippi, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas topping more than 60 births per 1,000 teenagers, according to the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) data.

"Rates for non-Hispanic white and Hispanic teenagers were uniformly higher in the Southeast and lower in the Northeast and California," a data brief posted to the organization's website revealed. "The highest rates for non-Hispanic black teenagers were reported in the upper Midwest and in the Southeast."

Overall, the statistics--which were from 2008--showed that teenage birth rates fell to 41.5 births per 1,000 teens, down from 42.5 per 1,000 in 2007. Non-Hispanic white births were 27.2 per 1,000 teens, nationwide. In comparison, Non-Hispanic black birth rates were 64.2 per 1,000 and Hispanic teenage birth rates were 81.8.

The birth rates were lowest in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont, where they were less than 25 births per 1,000 teenage girls, the NCHS reported. Washington D.C. had the lowest birth rate among Caucasian teens (4.3 per 1,000), while African-American birth rates were lowest in Hawaii (17.4 per 1,000) and Hispanic births were lowest in Maine (31.1 per 1,000).

"Although teenage birth rates fell nationally and in 14 states from 2007 to 2008"¦ the birth rate for the United States remains substantially higher than for other Western countries," the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) affiliated organization reported.

"The importance of this report is to get the data out there that shows where the high teen rates are by region and for whom, so that people have a foundation for addressing the issue of teen births," study author Brady Hamilton, an NCHS statistician, told CNN Health.

"You can't think of this as a uniform issue. There are variations by group, there are variations by region, and any public policy attempting to address the issue of teen births has to take these variations into account when it comes to discussing this issue," Hamilton added.

"This new CDC report makes it crystal clear that the teen birthrate is lower in states that provide students with comprehensive, evidence-based sex education," Leslie Kantor, the National Director of Education for Planned Parenthood, claimed in a statement quoted by Reuters on Wednesday.


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