State Data on Teen Births Now Available

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Variations in Teenage Birth Rates, 1991-98:

In a new report that documents further reductions in the declining teen birth rate, the National Center for Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, reports that all States have reduced the birth rate for teenagers, with reductions ranging from 10 to 38 percent, from 1991 to 1998. Among the States reporting the largest declines were Vermont, Alaska, Maine, California, Michigan, and the District of Columbia.

"Variations in Teenage Birth Rates, 1991-98: National and State Trends" provides more detail than previously available to study the pattern of teen births by State as well as by race and ethnicity. The report presents U.S. and State data for black, white, American Indian, Asian or Pacific Islander (API), and Hispanic teenagers for all States where those rates could be computed reliably.

Birth rates have dropped sharply for black teenagers since 1991, declining overall by 26 percent, to reach a rate lower than any year since 1960 when data for black women first became available. Birth rates for black teenagers are available for 39 States and the District of Columbia and showed a decline in 38 of those States ranging from 19 to 43 percent. Fifteen States reported a reduction of more than 30 percent.

To compare birth rates for Hispanic teens, data were available for 37 States in both 1991 and 1998 and showed a significant decline in 12 States, while increasing in 10 States. Overall, the Hispanic teen birth rate began declining more recently, and the overall reduction is smaller than other groups. Rates for American Indian and Asian or Pacific Islander are also not available for all States, reflecting to some extent the geographic concentration of these population groups. Rates fell in 10 out of 18 States for American Indian teenagers, and there were statistically significant declines in only 4 out of 31 States for API teenagers.

Overall, there were almost 485,000 babies born to teenagers 15-19 years in 1998, a birth rate of 51.1 live births per 1,000 women aged 15-19 years, 18 percent lower than in 1991 when the recent downward trend began. The drop in the birth rate has been even more pronounced for younger teens, those ages 15-17 years, with a drop of 21 percent in the U.S. rate to reach a record low. States have reported reductions of up to 46 percent over this time period.

Teenage mothers are disadvantaged in several ways that affect their health and the health of their infants. Pregnant teenagers are far less likely to receive timely prenatal care in the first trimester of pregnancy and are more likely to smoke during pregnancy and to have a preterm or low birthweight infant.

Among the factors associated with the drop in the teen birth rate are decreased sexual activity, increases in condom use, and the adoption of the implant and injectable contraceptives.

Copies of the report are available without charge on the NCHS Internet at or by calling the NCHS press office.

National and State Trends. Vol. 48, No. 6. 14 pp. (PHS) 2000-1120
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