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    Teen Births Rose in 2006

    Rate of Teenage Births Leaps 3%; Births to Single Moms Hit Historic Highs

    Record Cesarean Deliveries, Unmarried Moms

    In 2006, nearly one in three babies in the U.S. was delivered by cesarean section.

    The C-section rate rose by 3% to 31.1% -- more than twice the target rate government health officials have called for among low-risk women by 2010.

    C-sections were relatively rare in the U.S. before 1970, when just 5% of babies were delivered surgically.

    By the mid-1980s, nearly one in four babies born in the U.S. was delivered by cesarean section. That number dipped slightly through the 1990s, but has been climbing steadily ever since.

    The increase in births among unmarried women is definitely a trend, Ventura says. Births among this group hit historic highs in 2006.

    The 1.6 million births among unmarried women represents an 8% increase over 2005 and is 20% higher than the recent low point for births in the group seen in 2002.

    "Most of this increase is in women in their 20s," Ventura says. "This definitely suggests a change in attitudes about the issue."

    Preterm Deliveries Rising

    The preterm birth rate rose slightly in 2006, to 12.8% from 12.7% the previous year, and low-birth weight deliveries rose from 8.2% to 8.3%.

    Preterm births and low-birth rate deliveries have risen by 21% and 19%, respectively, since 1990, with late preterm births of between 34 and 36 weeks gestation rising by 25%, the NCHS's Joyce A. Martin, MPH, tells WebMD.

    Though the reasons for this are not completely clear, Martin says one factor appears to be an increased willingness among health care providers to induce labor early.

    The rate of infant deaths remained at a relatively stable 6.9 per 1,000 live births between 2004 and 2005, the last year for which mortality data have been analyzed.

    African-American newborns continued to be more than twice as likely as white and Hispanic infants to die in the first year of life.

    More than half of all infant deaths in 2005 were from birth defects, premature delivery, sudden infant death syndrome, and complications at delivery.

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