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Health & Pregnancy

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Teen Births Rose in 2006

Rate of Teenage Births Leaps 3%; Births to Single Moms Hit Historic Highs
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

April 7, 2008 -- The teen birth rate in the U.S. rose for the first time in 14 years in 2006, and the number of cesarean deliveries and births to unmarried women hit all-time highs, according to the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS).

Teen childbirths rose by 3% in 2006, to about 42 births for every 1,000 females between the ages of 15 and 19.

That was up from 40.5 births per 1,000 in 2005, but still well below the 62 births per 1,000 recorded in 1991, when teen birth rates began their decade-plus decline.

About 20,000 more births were recorded among teens in the U.S. in 2006 than the previous year, with a 5% increase seen among African-American teens, a 3% increase among non-Hispanic whites, and a 2% increase among Hispanics.

While it is too early to say if the rise represents the beginning of a trend, Stephanie J. Ventura, who heads the NCHS reproductive statistics branch, says it is cause for concern.

"This could continue or it could reverse, but it is not the direction we want to see," she tells WebMD.

New Baby Boom?

Overall, the birth rate increased by 3% to 4.26 million between 2005 and 2006, the largest single-year increase since 1989 and the largest total number of births since 1961, which was one of the last years of the baby boom.

Birth rates rose by 4% among women between the ages of 20 and 24, to 105 births per 1,000 and by 3% among those aged 40 to 44, to 9.4 births per 1,000.

An increase in the total fertility rate, which represents an estimate of the number of children a woman will have over her reproductive life, may be one explanation for the increase in overall births, Ventura suggests.

She says the rise represents a reversal in a trend, as an increasing number of families are made up of more than one or two children.

So when it comes to family planning, three may be the new two.

"I've heard people say that," she says. "All we can say is that the fertility rate is higher than it has been."

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