Teen Birth Rates Lowest In 60 Years


A new government report finds teenage girls are having fewer babies.

The Centers for Disease Control says teen birth rates in the U.S. are at their lowest since health officials started tracking them more than 60 years ago. The peak year for teen births, albeit a different era when women married younger, saw 96 births per 1,000 teen girls. The current birth rate, measured in girls 15 to 19, is 39 births per 1,000 teen girls.

Women in their early 20s also saw a large drop in birth rates, plummeting 7 percent in 2009, the largest decline since 1973. Women in their 20s overall showed a more pronounced decline than women in their 30s and 40s, although women in their 30s also saw a decrease in birth rates. Women 40 and over was the only age group where birth rates did not fall.

Just over four million babies were born in 2009, a 3 percent drop from 2008 and the second consecutive drop in births after a consistent yearly rise beginning in 2000. Women over 40 were the only ones to buck the trend, with the birth rate in their age group actually increasing by 3 percent since 2008. They accounted for 10 births in every 1,000 women.

The economy and a decline in immigration—also tied to the poor job market—have been cited as likely culprits in all age groups. Hispanics accounted for a quarter of births in 2009, and make up a large proportion of immigrants. A few teens interviewed by CBS News also cited sex education that expands its scope beyond abstinence-only, as well as abortion availability, as possible reasons for the decline in their demographic. Neither were officially named as causes by the CDC. Some experts with the CDC did credit the emergence of teen pregnancy in popular culture--Bristol Palin's high-profile teen pregnancy, as well as reality shows like "16 and Pregnant--for casting a harsher, more realistic light into the difficulties teen moms face.

Teen pregnancies in the U.S. are still higher than 16 other developed countries.

The report also found that C-section delivery rose for the 15th year straight, up to 33 percent of all births. Pre-term births, when infants are delivered at less than 37 weeks of pregnancy, dropped for the third straight year.

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