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Health & Pregnancy

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Teen Births Rise for Second Year

Overall Births Reached Record High in 2007

Teen Births a ‘Cause for Concern’ continued...

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.

Researcher John Santelli, MD, MPH, who chairs Columbia University’s Clinical Population and Family Health department, led the team that conducted the analysis.

He tells WebMD the 14-year decline in births among teens was largely driven by a big increase in condom use resulting from public health campaigns warning about the risks of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases posed by unprotected sex.

He blames the increase in births on the shift away from public funding for AIDS education in favor or "abstinence-only" programs starting early in the decade.

“We have raised a generation of young people who don’t have basic information about contraception,” he says.

Record Number of C-Sections

The C-section rate in the U.S. is now at its highest, rising in 2007 for the eleventh straight year.

This represents a more than 50% increase in surgical deliveries in the past decade.

C-section rates increased for most age groups and racial and ethnic groups in every state in the U.S., Ventura says.

One clear reason for this is the trend away from vaginal birth after cesarean delivery, known as VBAC.

Many smaller hospitals have banned VBACs because of malpractice concerns and regulations that require a surgical team to be in place to perform an emergency C-section, if needed.

But many experts believe the steady increase in C-section deliveries has been largely driven by issues that have little to do with the health of the mother or baby, such as doctor convenience and patient preference.

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