American teens are having fewer babies, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported this week, finding that teenage sexual activity decreased while use of birth control increased, in 2013.
The CDC collected preliminary birth certificate data and found that 277,749 babies were born to mothers under the age of 20—the lowest figure for U.S. teens since 1940's 304,004 births, the CDC's Division of Vital Statistics said.
The low rate spanned across all age groups, with the following breakdown:
- 47.3 births for every 1,000 women aged 18 and 19
- 12.3 births for every 1,000 girls aged 15-17
- 0.3 births for every 1,000 girls aged 10-14
The report showed statistically significant declines in teen birthrate between 1991 and 2012 across the states and across young women of all racial and ethnic groups. With these falls, therefore, the overall teen birthrate has plummeted 72 percent since the all-time high in 1957, when there were 96.3 births per 1,000 teen girls and women.
What does it all mean? For one thing, lower rates confirm the success of education programs that have attempted to teach teens about pregnancy and birth control, many of which began after the rise in teen pregnancy between 1986 and 1991. Fewer teen births also mean fewer at-risk babies, as newborns of teen mothers have been shown to have low birth weights or early arrivals.
Still, the U.S. numbers are far from the numbers of other developed countries, ranking 29th among 31 developed countries in terms of lowest teen birthrates, researchers at the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy reported. The countries with the lowest teen birthrates are Denmark, Japan, the Netherlands, and Switzerland, which have birthrates of less than 5 for every 1,000 young women.