New CDC Report Shows Teen Birth Rate Hits Record Low

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U.S. Births Top 4 Million In 2000

CDC Press Release

The U.S. teen birth rate declined to a record low in 2000, according to a preliminary report on births from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The report showed that the 2000 rate was 22 percent lower than the rate in 1991 when the decline began. In addition, the report showed an estimated 4,064,948 births for all ages in 2000 in the United States, 3 percent more than in 1999 and the highest in almost a decade.

"The continued decline in the teen birth rate is very encouraging news," said HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson. "When teens postpone parenthood, it benefits not only their lives, but society as a whole."

Since the early 1990s when the teen birth rate first began to drop, rates have declined most for black teenagers (31 percent) and the least for Hispanic teens (12 percent). The birth rate for young teenagers aged 15-17 has shown the greatest decline, down 29 percent from 1991 to 2000. The teen birth rate for most groups continued to decline into 2000.

The report also found that the overall birth rate was 14.8 per 1,000 population in 2000. The fertility rate was 67.6 per 1,000 women ages 15-44, a 3 percent increase from the previous year. While all groups experienced an increase in the fertility rate, the greatest increase was for Asian and Pacific Islander women, with an increase of 8 percent to the highest level observed since 1988. Hispanic women, who have the highest fertility rate, had a fertility rate increase of 4 percent in 2000.

The proportion of births to unmarried women has changed very little between 1994 (32.6 percent) and 2000 (33.1 percent). However, the number of births to unmarried women increased 3 percent in 2000 to 1,345,917, the highest number ever reported for the United States. The increase in the number of births is due to an increase in the birth rate for unmarried women in 2000 (still below the 1994 peak rate) and to a slight increase in the population of unmarried women in the childbearing ages. The number of births to unmarried teens, however, declined again in 2000 as in 1999.

The annual preliminary report from CDC's National Center for Health Statistics also tracks key indicators of maternal and infant health. Low birth weight, which has been on the rise since the mid-1980s, remained at the same level in 2000 (7.6 percent) as in the past two years. Timely prenatal care, which had increased steadily during the 1990s, did not improve over 1999. In 2000, 83.2 percent of women received prenatal care in the first trimester of pregnancy.

The cesarean delivery rate rose for the fourth consecutive year to 22.9 percent in 2000, an increase of 4 percent over 1999, making it the highest level since 1989 when birth certificate data on cesareans first became available. The cesarean rate declined steadily between 1989 and 1996, but has risen 11 percent since then. The rate for primary cesarean delivery was up in 2000, and the rate for vaginal births after cesarean (VBAC) dropped.

"Births: Preliminary Data for 2000" is based on birth certificates filed in state vital statistics offices and reported to CDC. The report can be viewed or downloaded on the CDC Web site at http://www.cdc.gov/nchs.

Earlier this month, Secretary Thompson announced more than $17.1 million in new grants to help communities develop and implement abstinence-only education programs in order to continue the downward trend in the teen birth rate.

CDC studies have shown that several factors have contributed to the decline in the teen birth rate. Sexual activity for teens has leveled off, reversing the steady increases over the past two decades. Many initiatives have focused on the prevention of pregnancy through abstinence and many teenagers have heard this message. For teenagers who are sexually active, more are using contraception including the more effective newer forms.

CDC protects people's health and safety by preventing and controlling diseases and injuries; enhances health decisions by providing credible information on critical health issues; and promotes healthy living through strong partnerships with local, national and international organizations.

Contact: CDC/NCHS Press Office
(301) 458-4800
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