Strong Decline in Teen Birth Rate Has Slowed

Washington, DC – According to Child Trends’ latest Facts at a Glance, a report of trends in teen childbearing, there is cautious optimism on the rate of teenage births in the United States. Teenage birth rates have continued to decline since they peaked in 1991, but there were increases since 2003 in the number of births among all teens, with the largest increase among Hispanic teens. Jennifer Manlove, Ph.D., one of the report’s authors asks, “Is this just a slight stabilization before future declines or are we on the brink of new increases in teen birth rates?”


The 2004 teen birth rate of 41.2 births per 1000 females 15-19 was only 1 percent lower than in 2003 (41.6). However, there was a slight increase (1%) in birth rates among Hispanic teens. In addition, in 2004, there were 422,197 births to teens in the U.S., almost 1,000 more births than in 2003.


The report also points to other areas of continued concern:


¨       Young people between the ages of 15 and 24 account for almost one-half of newly acquired sexually transmitted diseases in the United States.


¨       A quarter of school-age teens (25 percent of females and 28 percent of males ages 15-17) have not talked with a parent or guardian about any topics related to saying no to sex, birth control, condoms, or sexually transmitted diseases. Kristin A, Moore, Ph.D. also an author of this research, stated, “Parents matter. Our research shows that children value their parents’ opinions and listen to their advice. This is an example of the need for parents to continue communicating with their kids throughout adolescence – on all topics.”


¨       Between 2003 and 2004 the number of births to teens under age 15 and to teens aged 18-19 increased, as did the number of births to Hispanic teens (by more than 4000 births). In addition, the percentage of teen births that are repeat births increased slightly between 2003 and 2004 (from 20% to 21%).


¨       Teen birth rates show wide variations by state. In 2003, New Hampshire had the lowest teen birth rate with 18.2 births per 1000 teens, and the highest teen birth rate occurred in Texas, with 62.9 births per 1000 teens (which was slightly higher than birth rates of 62.7 per 1000 in New Mexico and 62.5 per 1000 in Mississippi).  Facts at a Glanceincludes state-level comparisons of birth rates, the proportion of teen births that occur within marriage, the percentage that were repeat teen births, the racial/ethnic composition of teen births, and the proportion of teen pregnancies in a state that resulted in an abortion.  For example, the majority of teen births in New Hampshire, with the lowest teen birth rates in the country, occurred to white teens (86%), while the majority of teen births in Texas, with the highest teen birth rates in the country occurred to Hispanic teens (61%).  Also, only 12% of teen births in New Hampshire were repeat teen births (to teens who already had a child), compared with 24% in Texas.  However, fewer teen births in New Hampshire were marital (11%) than in Texas, where 27% of teen births occurred within marriage.  (State-by-state comparison)


Additional findings include:


¨       The proportion of teen births that occur within marriage decreased from 49 percent in 1982 to 18 percent in 2002, reflecting the decreasing proportion of unmarried teen couples who conceive a child and marry before the child is born.


¨       Over one-half of students in grades 9-12 in 2003 reported they had abstained from sex, and two-thirds of sexually active students in grades 9-12 used a condom the last time they had sex.



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