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For Immediate Release: December 21, 2010
Contact: CDC National Center for Health Statistics
Office of Communication
(301) 458-4800

U.S. Teen Birth Rate Hits Record Low in 2009, CDC Report Finds

Total births and fertility rate also down

The birth rate for U.S. teens aged 15-19 years fell to a record low, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The 2009 birth rate of 39.1 births per 1,000 teens is down 6 percent from the 2008 rate of 41.5 births per 1,000. This is the lowest ever recorded in seven decades of tracking teenage childbearing. Birth rates for younger and older teens and for all race/ethnic groups reached historic lows in 2009.

The data are based on nearly 100 percent of birth records collected in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories. The report from CDC's National Center for Health Statistics also notes declines in the overall fertility rate—the average number of births that a group of women would have over their lifetimes—and the total number of U.S. births.

The general fertility rate fell from 68.6 births per 1,000 females aged 15-44 per year in 2008 to 66.7 in 2009. The total number of births declined from 4,247,694 in 2008 to 4,131,019 in 2009. This decline appears to be continuing into 2010, based on early birth counts from January-June of this year.

Other findings:

  • The total number of births to unmarried mothers declined in 2009, the first decline since 1997. The rate of births per 1,000 unmarried mothers also declined for the first time since 2002. However, because total births declined more than unmarried births, the percentage of births to unmarried mothers rose slightly in 2009, to 41 percent of all U.S. births compared to 40.6 in 2008.

  • The birth rate for women in their early twenties fell 7 percent in 2009, the largest decline for this age group since 1973. The rates also fell for women in their late twenties and thirties. The birth rate for women in their early forties increased in 2009.

  • The preterm birth rate declined for the third straight year in 2009, to about 12.2 percent of all births.

  • The cesarean delivery rate rose to a record high of 32.9 percent in 2009, up from 32.3 in 2008. The cesarean rate has increased every year since 1996, when the rate was 20.7.

  • The low birthweight rate was essentially unchanged between 2008 and 2009 at less than 8.2 percent in 2009, but down slightly from the record high of 8.3 in 2006.

The full report is available at www.cdc.gov/nchs.

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U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

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