U.S. Teen Birth Rate Hits Record Low, CDC Reports

Filed under: In The News, Research Reveals: Babies, Research Reveals

Not only is the overall U.S. birth rate down, but women are having their children later in life, as well. Credit: Getty

Looks like all those free condom giveaways might be doing the trick, after all.

The birth rate for U.S. teens, ages 15 to 19, fell to the lowest level ever recorded in 70 years of tracking teenage childbearing, according to a report released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The 2009 birth rate of 39.1 births per 1,000 teens was more than 6 percent lower than the 2008 rate of 42.5 births per 1,000, with birth rates for younger and older teens for all race/ethnic groups reaching historic lows in 2009.

The birth rate data is based on 99.95 percent of the births recording in all 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. territories.

The report from the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics also shows declines in the overall fertility rate in the United States -- meaning the average number of births that women have over their lifetimes -- as well as the total number of births in the country.

The general fertility rate dropped nearly 2 percent from 2009 to 2008, with 66.7 births per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44 in 2009, compared to 68.6 in 2009. The CDC also notes that this decline appears to be continuing into 2010, based on findings from the first part of the year.

Other notable findings:

  • The total number of births to unmarried mothers declined 2009, the first decline since 1997. However, due to the total birth rate decline, births to unmarried women make up a slightly higher proportion (41 percent) in 2009 than in 2008 (40.6 percent).
  • The birth rate for women in their early 40s increased in 2009, while the birth rates for women in their 20s and 30s declined. In fact, the birth rate for women in their early 20s fell 7 percent in 2009, the largest decline for this age group since 1973.
  • The preterm birth rate fell for the third straight year, to about 12.2 percent of all births.
  • The rate of cesarean deliveries reached a record high of 32.9 percent; the cesarean rate has increased every year since 1996, when the rate was 20.7.
  • The low birth weight rate was virtually unchanged from 2008 to 2009 but, at 8.2 percent, was down slightly from the record high of 8.3 in 2006.

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