U.S. teen birth rates showed notable decreases throughout most states and across all racial and ethnic groups from 2007-09, while President Obama's Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative rolls on.
The overall teen birth rate for 2009, 39.1 births per 1,000 teens ages 15 to 19, was the lowest since record-keeping began nearly 70 years ago, the CDC first reported in December. The downward trend has remained steady since the early 1990s except for two years, 2006 and 2007.
But despite recent notable declines, the United States still leads the developed world in numbers of births to teenagers, which concerns public health officials. Teen childbearing carries significant risks. Babies born to teenage mothers are more likely to be of low birth weight or preterm than infants born to older women, and they have a higher risk of dying during infancy, the report says.
For younger teens, 15 to 17, the birth rate declined 7 percent in 2009 from 2008, the largest single-year drop since 2000-01. The 6 percent decline reported for older teens, 18 to 19, was the largest single-year decline since 1971-72 and also a historic low for that age group.
Dr. Lawrence B. Friedman, a professor of pediatrics and director of the division of adolescent medicine at the University Of Miami Miller School Of Medicine attributes this decline to better safe sex education and alternatives to intercourse:
"That doesn't mean decreases in sexual activity, but just alternate intimacies that teenagers are discovering or rediscovering. There is also increased use of effective contraception."
As part of the President's Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative (TPPI), the CDC is partnering with the Office of Public Health and Science (OPHS) to reduce teenage pregnancy and address disparities in teen pregnancy and birth rates. The OPHS is supporting public and private entities to fund medically accurate and age appropriate evidence-based or innovative program models to reduce teen pregnancy.
The purpose of this program is to demonstrate the effectiveness of innovative, multicomponent, communitywide initiatives in reducing rates of teen pregnancy and births in communities with the highest rates, with a focus on reaching African American and Latino/Hispanic youth aged 15 to 19. A communitywide model is an intervention implemented in defined communities (specified geographic area) applying a common approach with different strategies.
Among teens 18-19, birth rates in 2009 for whites (46.1 per 1,000), blacks (97.5 per 1000), and Asian Pacific teens (25.7) were record lows for these groups. While the birth rate for Hispanic teenagers declined more slowly overall from 1991 through 2009, the decline in the rate from 2008 to 2009 (41.0 per 1000) was the largest of all race and ethnicity groups at 11 percent.
The program's main goals are hoped to be achieved by 2015. These include reducing the rates of pregnancies and births to youth in the target areas, increase youth access to evidence-based and evidence-informed programs to prevent teen pregnancy, increase linkages between teen pregnancy prevention programs and community-based clinical services, and finally, educate stakeholders about relevant evidence-based and evidence-informed strategies to reduce teen pregnancy and data on needs and resources in target communities.
Source: Centers For Disease Control And Prevention
Written By Sy Kraft, B.A.