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Teen Births Rise for Second Year

Overall Births Reached Record High in 2007
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Dec. 21, 2009 -- For the second year in a row, the birth rate among teens increased in 2007, raising concerns that efforts to curb teen pregnancies are not working as well as they once did.

Teen births increased 5% between 2005 and 2007, following a 34% drop between 1991 and 2005.

In 2007 -- the last year for which figures are available -- the birth rate among teens rose by about 1%, with 42.5 babies born for every 1,000 teens aged 15 to 19.

The overall birth rate also increased by 1% between 2006 and 2007, with a record 4.3 million babies born in the U.S.

The record number of births is the result of the growing population and is not indicative of a new baby boom, says CDC chief of reproductive statistics Stephanie J. Ventura, MA.

“The average woman is still having two children,” she tells WebMD. “That hasn’t really changed much in recent years.”

Other Major Birth Trends

Among the other trends highlighted in the new report by the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics:

  • In 2007, there were 69.5 births for every 1,000 women of childbearing age in the United States. 
  • Nearly 1 in 3 babies -- 31.8% -- were delivered by cesarean section, up 2% from the previous year. 
  • The percentage of births to unmarried women increased from 38.5% in 2006 to 39.7% in 2007. 
  • The rate of twin and higher-order multiple births remained unchanged between 2005 and 2006. 
  • The infant mortality rate in 2007 did not change significantly from the 2006 rate of 6.77 deaths per 1,000 live births. But this rate is still much higher than in most other developed nations. 
  • Life expectancy for a child born in 2007 reached a record high of 77.9 years.

The report appears in the January issue of the journal Pediatrics.

Teen Births a ‘Cause for Concern’

Although the rate of increase in births among teenagers was similar to that seen in older women, there is cause for concern, Ventura says.

The 14-year decline in teen birth rates began to slow early in the decade.

At its peak in 1991, there were close to 62 births per 1,000 teens. By 2005, that number had declined to 40.5.

“We certainly don’t want to see this upward trend continue,” she says. “Even though we have made a lot of progress in this area, we still have a long way to go. The birth rate among teens in the U.S. is still much higher than in most other developed countries.”

A recent analysis of data from a national survey of young people conducted by CDC showed declines in sexual activity and improvements in contraceptive use among teens between 1991 and 2003, with no significant changes in these behaviors since.

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