CDC Report Shows Teen Birth Rate Reaching Historic Lows

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 10, 2012   |   12:25PM   |   Washington, DC

A new report from the Centers for Disease Control shows the U.S. teen birth rate declined 9 percent from 2009 to 2010, reaching a historic low at 34.3 births per 1,000 women aged 15–19.

During the time period from 1991 through 2010, when abstinence education programs reached their zenith thanks in part to federal funding, the rate dropped 44 percent from 1991 through 2010. Teen birth rates by age and race and Hispanic origin were lower in 2010 than ever reported in the United States.

“Fewer babies were born to teenagers in 2010 than in any year since 1946. If the teen birth rates observed in 1991 had not declined through 2010 as they did, there would have been an estimated 3.4 million additional births to teens during 1992–2010,” the report noted. “Teen birth rates fell in all but three states during 2007–2010. Teen birth rates by state vary significantly, reflecting in part differences in the population composition of states by race and Hispanic origin.”

The report provided positive figures for groups working to help reduce teen pregnancy:

• The 2010 rate was 44 percent below the recent peak in 1991, and 64 percent lower than the all-time high level of 96.3 recorded during the baby boom year of 1957 (1).

• Birth rates fell from 2009 to 2010 for teenagers in age groups 10–14, 15–17, and 18–19. The rate for the youngest teenagers was a record low for the United States (0.4).

• The birth rate for teens aged 15–17 dropped 12 percent, from 19.6 per 1,000 in 2009 to 17.3 in 2010. The 2010 rate was less than one-half the level in 1991 (38.6).

• The rate for ages 18–19 dropped 9 percent, from 64.0 in 2009 to 58.3 in 2010.

Rates fell by at least 8 percent in 47 states and the District of Columbia. Declines in 16 states ranged from 20 percent to 29 percent while rates did not change significantly in Montana, North Dakota, and West Virginia.

“The widespread significant declines in teen childbearing that began after 1991 have strengthened in recent years,” the report from the CDC said. “The teen birth rate dropped 17 percent from 2007 through 2010, a record low, and 44 percent from 1991. Rates fell across all teen age groups, racial and ethnic groups, and nearly all states. The drop in the U.S. rate has importantly affected the number of births to teenagers. If the 1991 rates had prevailed through the years 1992–2010, there would have been an estimated 3.4 million additional births to teenagers during that period.”

The reduction in teen pregnancy rates would be bad news if the pregnancies ended in abortion, but a study from earlier this year from the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute said teen abortion and pregnancy rates both fell in 2008 to new record lows.

“Teen pregnancies have declined dramatically in the United States since their peak in the early 1990s, as have the births and abortions that result; in 2008, teen pregnancies reached their lowest level in nearly 40 years,” the Guttmacher Institute said.

They noted: “In 2008, the teen pregnancy rate was 67.8 pregnancies per 1,000 women aged 15–19, which means that about 7% of U.S. teens became pregnant that year. This rate represents a 42% decline from the peak in 1990 (116.9 per 1,000). Similarly, the birthrate declined 35% between 1991 and 2008, from 61.8 to 40.2 births per 1,000 teens; the abortion rate declined 59% from its 1988 peak of 43.5 abortions per 1,000 teens to its 2008 level of 17.8 per 1,000.”

The authors said the rates would be lowered if contraception was promoted further even though the Guttmacher Institute’s own research shows 54 percent of women having abortions were using birth control or contraception at the time of their abortion.

That Guttmacher report shows “54 percent of women who have abortions had used a contraceptive method *usually condom or the pill) during the month they became pregnant.”