From Our 2009 Archives

Teen Birth Rates on the Rise

Mississippi Had Highest Teen Birth Rate in 2006; New Hampshire Had Lowest

By Bill Hendrick
WebMD Health News

Reviewed By Louise Chang, MD

Jan. 7, 2009 -- The birth rate for teens rose in more than half the states in the country in 2006, with the biggest increases seen in the South and Southwest, new research shows.

Mississippi had the highest teen birth rate, with 68.4 births reported per 1,000 girls aged 15-19, according to the National Center for Health Statistics of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

New Mexico and Texas finished second and third in rate of increase. New Mexico reported a birth rate of 64.1 and Texas 63.1.

The report was the first state-by-state study on teen birth rates for 2006, when the teen birth rate rose for the first time in 14 years.

Teen birth rates were lowest in northeastern states, the CDC says.

The lowest rates were in New Hampshire, 18.7, Vermont, 20.8, and Massachusetts, 21.3.

North Dakota, Rhode Island, and New York were the only states to show a decrease in teen birth rates between 2005 and 2006.

The findings were published in "Births: Final Data for 2006." The report, from data from the National Vital Statistics System, covers the latest U.S. birth statistics, including state-based and national information on teen, unmarried, and multiple births. The report also included health data on cesarean deliveries, smoking during pregnancy, low birth weight, and preterm births.

The reports highlights include that:

  • 4,265,555 births were registered in the United States in 2006, an increase of 3 percent over the previous year. The birth rate was 14.2 live births per 1,000 persons in 2006, up from 2005.
  • The average age of mothers having a baby for the first time decreased to 25 years of age in 2006 from 25.2 the prior year. It was the first recorded decline in age since the measure became available. Average age at first birth had increased 3.8 years between 1970 and 2003.
  • For unmarried women, the birth rate increased 7 percent between 2005 and 2006, hitting 50.6 per 1,000 unmarried women between 15 and 44 years old.
  • The twin rate remained unchanged in 2006 from 2005, at about 3 twin births per every 100. The rate for triplets and higher-order multiple births declined 5 percent from 2005 to 2006, to 15 births per every 1,000. Between 1980 and 1998, the rate soared more than 400 percent, but has fallen 21 percent since then.
  • Wednesday was the most common day for delivery in 2006, and most births occurred in August that year. Since 1990, the most common birth day had been Tuesday.
  • Labor was induced for 22.5 percent of births in 2006, up from 22.3 percent the prior year, and double the rate for 1990 of 9.5 percent.
  • Cesarean delivery rates rose to 31.1 percent of all births, an increase of 3 percent from 2005 to 2006. Cesarean deliveries have increased 50 percent since 1996.

The rate of babies born at low birth weight continued to rise, hitting 8.3 percent in 2006, the highest level in 40 years. The preterm birth rate also rose in 2006, to 12.8 percent of all births.

The proportion of all births to unmarried women reached 38.5 percent of all U.S. births in 2006, up from 36.9 percent in 2005.

Researchers say the numbers provide "important information on fertility patterns among American women, including age, live-birth order, race, Hispanic origin, marital status, and educational attainment.

"Up-to-date information on these fertility patterns is critical to understanding population growth and change in this country and in individual states," the authors say.

SOURCES: News release, CDC National Center for Health Statistics. Full report, National Vital Statistics Report, vol. 57, no. 7.

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