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US Teen Birth Rate at Lowest Level Ever Reported

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy  - Washington, DC — The U.S. teen birth rate declined 9% in 2010 and is now at the lowest level ever reported, according to data released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS).  The 9% drop is the steepest one-year decline since 1946/1947.

    “I am aware of no other social problem that has improved so dramatically over so many years,” said Sarah Brown, CEO of The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.  “Progress in reducing teen pregnancy has been nothing short of remarkable—the teen birth rate has declined a stunning 44% between 1991 and 2010.  There have been impressive declines in all 50 states and among all racial/ethnic groups.  Not so long ago, teen pregnancy was viewed as intractable and inevitable.  This report shows that too early pregnancy and child-bearing are 100% preventable.  

    “The magic formula of less sex and more contraception is responsible for this great good news,” said Brown.  “Teens are being more careful for a number of reasons, including the recession, more media attention to this issue—including the ‘16 and Pregnant/Teen Mom effect’—and more attention to and investment in evidence-based programs.  But at the end of the day, the thanks and admiration go to teens themselves.”
    Other findings from the new NCHS data include:
        Birth rates declined for teens of all ages.  The rate for teens 15-17 declined 12% in 2010 and has fallen 55% from its peak in 1991.  The birth rate for teens 18-19 declined 9% in 2010; 38% lower than in 1991.
        Birth rates also declined for all racial/ethnic groups.  Among teens 15-19, the birth rate declined 9% in 2010 for non-Hispanic whites and non-Hispanic blacks, 12% for Hispanic and American Indian Alaska Native teens, and 13% for Asian Pacific Islander teens.
        The national teen birth rate fell to 34.3 births per 1,000 girls aged 15-19 in 2010, down from 37.9 in 2009 and 61.8 in 1991 when the teen birth rate was at its peak.

    Visit to read the full 2010 birth report.


    Statement from SC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy CEO Forrest Alton
    Anytime there is a significant reduction in the number of babies born to teen mothers we should stop and celebrate.  While we have not yet received South Carolina specific data for 2010, we are hopeful that our state will see further declines in teen birth rates that equal – or exceed – these national data.  In order to continue this trend we know two things must happen.  Fewer teens need to be engaging in sexual behaviors and more teens who are engaging in sexual behavior need to be using condoms and contraception.  We are encouraged by the fact that South Carolina’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey of middle and high school students suggests both of these things are happening.
    So today, we should stop and celebrate, but we should also stop to thank our colleagues in the field who work tirelessly to ensure young people are receiving information and services they need to make healthy decisions; our elected leaders who support comprehensive sex education; our parents who are having difficult conversations with their children about love, sex and relationships; and finally our young people who are making responsible decisions. Data like those today also provide a clear reminder that we CAN do something about this issue, and indeed ARE doing something about reducing rates of teen births in South Carolina and across the country.