Teen Births Down, Unmarried Births Up

CDC Reports New Low in Teen Birth Rate; Record High in Births to Unmarried Moms

Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD on November 21, 2006
From the WebMD Archives

Nov. 21, 2006 -- A 6% drop in births to black teens helped push the 2005 U.S. teen birth rate to the lowest level ever recorded: 40.4 births per 1,000 teens.

Meanwhile, the number of births to unmarried moms set a record high.

The statistics come from a CDC analysis of U.S. birth records.

The 2005 teen birth rate is 2% lower than in 2004. And it is 35% lower than 1991's record high of 61.8 births per 1,000 teens.

"The decline in teenage childbearing has been documented across all race and ethnic populations, but most impressive has been the decline in these rates for non-Hispanic black teenagers," said CDC researcher Brady Hamilton, PhD, an author of the report.

Despite the drop in teen births, 2005 saw yet another increase in babies born to unmarried women.

Unmarried American women had 1.52 million children in 2005 -- 4% more than in 2004 and a record high.

In 2005, 36.8% of U.S. births were to unmarried women.

Also, the CDC found low birth weight to be an increasing problem for U.S. children. Low birth weight puts a child at risk of poor health and developmental problems.

In 2005, 8.2% of U.S.-born babies had low birth weight -- up from 8.1% in 2004. That caps a more than 20% increase since the mid-1980s.

In a related finding, premature births rose to 12.7% of all U.S. births in 2005, up from 12.5% in 2004 -- and 20% higher than in 1990.

Other data from the report:

  • Caesarean deliveries -- children born via C-section -- increased by 4% in 2005 to 30.2% of all births. This rate has gone up 46% in the last decade.
  • 4.14 million U.S. babies were born in 2005 -- up 1% over 2004.
  • The U.S. fertility rate -- births per 1,000 women age 15-44 -- rose to 66.7 in 2005, compared with 66.3 in 2004.

Show Sources

SOURCES: Hamilton, B. CDC National Center for Health Statistics web site, "Births: Preliminary Data for 2005," accessed Nov. 21, 2006. News release, CDC.

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