Teen births hit record low, CDC reports

February 11, 2013 by Serena Gordon, Healthday Reporter
Teen births hit record low, CDC reports
Preterm and low-birth-weight babies also down, researchers add.

(HealthDay)—Teen birth rates have dropped yet again, reaching a historic low, and the number of babies being born early or with a low birth weight has also declined, a new U.S. government report shows.

Many factors may account for the improvement, experts say.

"We talk more about , the responsibility of having a child and how difficult it is to be a teen mom. We also talk about contraception and abstinence more," explained Dr. Jill Rabin, chief of ambulatory care, at Long Island Jewish Medical Center, in New Hyde Park, N.Y.

"Adults have to remember we're fighting the adolescent sex drive that developed as a matter of survival of the species," Rabin said. "It's important to remember the three I's when you're working with teens. They think they're immortal, invincible and infertile. We have to convince them otherwise and dispel the myths, and the message needs repetition."

As for the decrease in preterm and babies, Rabin noted that "prenatal care is getting better, and the message of the importance of prenatal care is getting out there."

The report, from the National Center for Health Statistics branch of the U.S. , documented declines in the three areas: The rate fell to 31.3 births per 1,000 women aged 15 to 19 in 2011. Twenty years ago, that rate was 61.8 per 1,000 teenage girls. And, for the fifth straight year, the preterm birth rate dropped, to 11.7 percent in 2011 from 12.8 percent in 2006. The rate for low-birth-weight babies also declined, from 8.15 percent in 2010 to 8.1 percent in 2011.

The report was published online Feb. 11 and will appear in the March print issue of the journal Pediatrics.

One expert noted that the three birth trends are often intertwined.

"Teen pregnancies are associated with preterm births. What really struck me from this report was that if the rate of teen birth hadn't gone down since 1991, 3.6 million more births would have occurred," said Dr. Ed McCabe, senior vice president and medical director of the March of Dimes.

"For two decades, the preterm birth rate rose steadily, but it's been decreasing since 2006, and is now the lowest it's been in a decade," he said. "It shows that preterm birth is not an intractable problem."

McCabe said a major reason for the decline in preterm birth is a focus on reducing elective cesarean section births and labor inductions. He said the March of Dimes and other groups, like the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, recommend that no elective birth procedures be done before 39 weeks of gestation unless there is a medical indication for early delivery.

"A lot of teen pregnancies are unplanned," McCabe said. "It's really about motivating teens to empower them to take control over their own bodies and lives."

The drop in was even more significant for some races, although the rates are still higher overall. In 1991, the rate of teen pregnancy among non-Hispanic blacks was 118.2 per 1,000 teens. By 2011, that number was down to 47.4 per 1,000 teens. In Hispanics, the 1991 rate was 104.6 per 1,000, and 49.4 per 1,000 teens in 2011.

Meanwhile, the rate of is at its lowest point in five years at 11.7 percent. The biggest decline came in the birth of late preterm babies (those at 34 to 36 weeks gestation).

Like preterm births, the number of low-birth-weight babies has been declining since 2006. The latest rate of low-birth-weight babies (about 5.5 pounds or less) was 8.1 percent of babies born in 2011.

"Barriers to access to care are being reduced," Rabin said. "There are more and more programs to take care of the under- and uninsured. I think this will keep getting better."

Both Rabin and McCabe recommended getting care as soon as you know you're pregnant—although ideally, you should see your doctor before getting pregnant to make sure you're in the best health you can be and you can start taking prenatal vitamins.

Explore further: United States' premature birth rate continues to decline

More information: Learn more about premature birth and steps you can take to prevent it from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Related Stories

United States' premature birth rate continues to decline

January 31, 2013
(HealthDay)—The rate of premature births has declined to 11.7 percent, the lowest rate in a decade, according to the March of Dimes 2012 Premature Birth Report Card.

US preterm birth rate under 12 percent, the lowest level in nearly a decade

November 17, 2011
The nation's preterm birth rate slipped under 12 percent for the first time in nearly a decade, the fourth consecutive year it declined, potentially sparing tens of thousands of babies the serious health consequences of an ...

Preterm birth rate shows three year improvement in most states

November 1, 2011
Preterm birth rates improved in almost every state between 2006 and 2009, and in several states the change was more than 10 percent, according to the March of Dimes 2011 Premature Birth Report Card.

Recommended for you

High-fat diet in pregnancy can cause mental health problems in offspring

July 21, 2017
A high-fat diet not only creates health problems for expectant mothers, but new research in an animal model suggests it alters the development of the brain and endocrine system of their offspring and has a long-term impact ...

To combat teen smoking, health experts recommend R ratings for movies that depict tobacco use

July 21, 2017
Public health experts have an unusual suggestion for reducing teen smoking: Give just about any movie that depicts tobacco use an automatic R rating.

Opioids and obesity, not 'despair deaths,' raising mortality rates for white Americans

July 20, 2017
Drug-related deaths among middle-aged white men increased more than 25-fold between 1980 and 2014, with the bulk of that spike occurring since the mid-1990s when addictive prescription opioids became broadly available, according ...

Aging Americans enjoy longer life, better health when avoiding three risky behaviors

July 20, 2017
We've heard it before from our doctors and other health experts: Keep your weight down, don't smoke and cut back on the alcohol if you want to live longer.

Parents have critical role in preventing teen drinking

July 20, 2017
Fewer teenagers are drinking alcohol but more needs to be done to curb the drinking habits of Australian school students, based on the findings of the latest study by Adelaide researchers.

Fresh fish oil lowers diabetes risk in rat offspring

July 19, 2017
Fresh fish oil given to overweight pregnant rats prevented their offspring from developing a major diabetes risk factor, Auckland researchers have found.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.