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Children's Health

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Birth Rate Drops Among Young Teens

Fewest Births in Ages 10-14 Since 1946, Says CDC
WebMD Health News

Nov. 15, 2004 -- The U.S. birth rate among young girls and teens has dropped to a level not seen in 60 years, according to the CDC.

In 2002, there were 7,315 live births among girls aged 10-14, says the CDC in its report, "Births to 10-14 Year-Old Mothers, 1990-2002: Trends and Health Outcomes."

The birth rate was nearly one live birth for every 1,000 females aged 10-14 years, half the rate of 1990 and the lowest since 1946.

The trend cut across all populations.

"The birth rate for young teens fell in all racial and ethnic groups by 29% to 63% between 1990 and 2002," reports the CDC.

Black girls had the sharpest decrease, dropping from five births per 1,000 young teens in 1990 to 1.9 in 2002.

However, blacks and Hispanics still had the highest birth rates of the age group, with 1.9 and 1.4 per 1,000, respectively, although there were significant decreases.

Asian and Pacific Islanders aged 10-14 had a birth rate of 0.3 per 1,000. Among whites, the rate was 0.2 per 1,000.

Live birth rates also differed across the U.S., with Maine having the nation's lowest teen birth rate of 0.2 per 1,000 young teens. Mississippi and Washington, D.C., had the national high of two births for every 1,000 young teens.

The pregnancy rates for young teens were different.

In 2000, the 10-14 pregnancy rate was 2.1 pregnancies per 1,000 girls. That's fewer than in 1990, when the age group's rate was 3.5 pregnancies per 1,000 girls.

"About two-fifths of the pregnancies among 10-14 year olds in 2000 ended in a live birth, two-fifths ended in induced abortion, and about one in 6 ended in a fetal loss. These proportions have been fairly stable since 1976," say the researchers, who included Fay Menacker, DrPH.

Mothers aged 10-14 and their babies had significant health risks. They were more likely to lack prenatal care, deliver their babies early, have babies born at low birth weight, and have higher infant mortality rates.

About 21% gave birth to preterm babies (delivered before 37 weeks) and 5% gave birth to very preterm infants babies (delivered before 32 weeks).

More than 12% of single babies of young teen moms were born at low birth weights. That's the highest rate for low-birth-weight babies of any age group.

Infant death rates were also much higher among young teen moms.

The infant death rate was 15.4 per 1,000, which is two to three times higher than that for infants of mothers aged 20-44, says the CDC.

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