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State-Specific Birth Rates for Teenagers -- United States, 1990-1996

During the late 1980s, birth rates for teenagers in the United States increased sharply. Although rates have declined steadily since 1991 (1,2), age-, race-, ethnicity-, and state-specific rates have varied substantially. Despite recent declines, the U.S. birth rate for teenagers remains high compared with other industrialized countries. In 1996, an estimated 505,514 females aged less than 20 years gave birth; two thirds of births to teenagers are unintended (3). The adverse consequences of teenage childbearing include increased poverty for both mother and child. This report presents state-specific birth rates for females aged 15-19 years for 1991 and 1995 and compares race/ ethnicity-specific birth rates for U.S. females aged less than 20 years for 1990-1996. These findings indicate that, during 1991-1995, birth rates among teenagers declined significantly in all but five states and the District of Columbia, and declines nationwide during 1991-1996 were especially large for teenagers aged 15-17 years and for black teenagers. Recent declines in abortions and abortion rates for teenagers, coupled with the trends described in this report for birth rates for teenagers, indicate that, since 1991, pregnancy rates for teenagers also have declined.

Data for 1990-1995 (the most recent year for which state-specific data were available) were derived from the complete file of all births registered in state vital statistics offices (1,4). Data for 1996 were derived from preliminary files containing 94% of births; the preliminary data series was initiated in 1995 (2). Births were reported by mother's state of residence. Population denominators for the birth rates were obtained from the Bureau of the Census (5,6). Race/ethnicity-specific data are presented for Hispanics, non-Hispanic whites, blacks, American Indians/Alaskan Natives, and Asians/Pacific Islanders. Data for non-Hispanic blacks are not presented separately from data for all blacks because both sets of data are virtually identical (97% of births to blacks are to non-Hispanic females). Because preliminary data for 1996 were not available for race/ethnicity cross-classification, the most recent data for non-Hispanic white females were for 1995.

The preliminary birth rate for teenagers aged 15-19 years in 1996 was 54.7 births per 1000 females aged 15-19 years, a 4% decline from the rate for 1995 (56.8) (Table_1). From 1986 to 1991, the rate increased 24% (from 50.2 to 62.1) (1); however, from 1991 to 1996, the rate declined 12%. Although rates declined in all subgroups, the percentage decline was greater for teenagers in younger age groups (14% for those aged 10-14 years and 12% for those aged 15-17 years) than for those who were older (8% for those aged 18-19 years).

In general, birth rates during 1991-1996 declined for teenagers in all racial/ethnic groups for which 1996 rates could be computed. During this period, the rate for blacks aged 15-17 years declined 23%, compared with a decline of 16% for those aged 18-19 years. From 1991 to 1995 (the most recent year for which data were available), the rate for non-Hispanic whites aged 15-17 years declined 7%, compared with a decline of 6% for those aged 18-19 years. From 1995 to 1996, rates for Hispanics aged 15-19 years declined 5%, even though rates in this group had been stable during 1991-1995. During 1991-1996, rates for American Indians/Alaskan Natives and Asians/ Pacific Islanders aged 15-19 years declined 12% and 7%, respectively.

From 1991 to 1995 (the most recent year for which state-specific data were available), state-specific birth rates for teenagers varied substantially (Table_2). * During this period, rates for those aged 15-19 years declined in all states and the District of Columbia, and declined significantly in most (45) states. Statistically significant percentage declines ranged from 3.6% (Texas) to 26.9% (Vermont) (Table_2). Rates declined greater than or equal to 12.0% in 12 states, 10.0%-11.9% in nine states, 8.0%-9.9% in 12 states, and less than 8.0% in 12 states (Figure_1).

Reported by: Reproductive Statistics Br, Div of Vital Statistics, National Center for Health Statistics, CDC.

Editorial Note

Editorial Note: The findings in this report indicate that, from 1991 to 1996, birth rates for all U.S. teenagers declined; rates declined for all age groups and for all racial/ ethnic groups. Birth rates are used to assess the effectiveness of programs to reduce teenage pregnancy; comprehensive assessment of such trends also requires that data on legal induced abortion and fetal loss be combined with live-birth data to produce teenage pregnancy rates. From 1991 to 1992, the teenage pregnancy rate declined 3% (from 115.0 pregnancies per 1000 females aged 15-19 years to 111.3 per 1000, respectively) (4,7), reflecting declines in both birth and abortion rates for teenagers. More recently, abortion statistics for 1993-1994 indicate a continued decline in abortions and abortion rates for teenagers (8). The declines in both birth and abortion rates for teenagers suggest a sustained decline in teenage pregnancy rates.

Teenage childbearing patterns varied substantially by race/ethnicity, possibly reflecting differences in income, education, access to health care, and health-care coverage. Rates historically have been higher for black and Hispanic teenagers than for other groups (1,2,4). Because recent declines in teenage birth rates have been greater for blacks, race-specific differences in rates have narrowed.

State-specific variations in birth rates for teenagers especially reflected differences in the racial/ethnic composition of the teenage population. Overall, rates were higher in states with higher proportions of Hispanic and/or black teenagers. For example, rates were higher in states in the South and Southwest with proportionately higher Hispanic and black populations (Table_2). The state-specific data in this report were not adjusted for these compositional differences because the race-/ethnicity-specific data are not available for 1995.

Although birth rates for teenagers were substantially higher during the early 1970s than during recent years, most teenagers giving birth during the earlier period were married; most of those giving birth during more recent periods were unmarried (1,2,4). The sustained increases in the percentage of births to unmarried teenagers slowed during the early 1990s.

Findings from the 1995 National Survey of Family Growth suggest two trends have contributed to the declines in teenage birth (and pregnancy) rates. First, the long-term increase in the proportion of teenaged women who were sexually experienced leveled after having increased during 1982-1990 (from 47% to 55%). In addition, among sexually experienced teenagers who used any method of contraception, condom use increased substantially (3).

Recognition of the consequences of teenage pregnancy has prompted initiatives to reduce teenage pregnancy in state and local jurisdictions. Although a variety of programs have been developed to reduce the incidence of teenage pregnancy, only a limited number have been rigorously evaluated (9), and no single approach has been identified. Instead, states and local jurisdictions are being encouraged to consider a wide variety of approaches and strategies for preventing teenage pregnancy. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is coordinating and supporting an intensive multifaceted strategy to reduce teenage pregnancy (10). Basic elements of this strategy include increasing opportunities through welfare reform (e.g., provisions promoting personal responsibility for minor parents, abstinence education, incentives for states that reduce out-of-wedlock childbearing, and strict enforcement of child support laws); supporting approaches tailored to the unique needs of individual communities (e.g., DHHS' Community Coalition Partnership Program for the Prevention of Teen Pregnancy and the Adolescent Family Life Program); building partnerships among concerned citizens from all sectors of society; sharing information about promising and successful approaches in teenage pregnancy-prevention programs; and improving data collection, research, and evaluation.

References

  1. Ventura SJ, Clarke SC, Mathews TJ. Recent declines in teenage birth rates in the United States: variations by state, 1990-1994. Hyattsville, Maryland: US Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, CDC, National Center for Health Statistics, 1996. (Monthly vital statistics report; vol 45, no. 5, suppl).

  2. Ventura SJ, Peters KD, Martin JA, Maurer JD. Births and deaths: United States, 1995. Hyattsville, Maryland: US Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, CDC, National Center for Health Statistics, 1997. (Monthly vital statistics report; vol 46, no. 1, suppl 2).

  3. Abma JC, Chandra A, Mosher WD, Peterson LS, Piccinino LJ. Fertility, family planning, and women's health: new data from the 1995 National Survey of Family Growth. Hyattsville, Maryland: US Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, CDC, National Center for Health Statistics, 1997. (Vital and health statistics; series 23, no. 19).

  4. Ventura SJ, Martin JA, Curtin SC, Mathews TJ. Report of final natality statistics, 1995. Hyattsville, Maryland: US Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, CDC, National Center for Health Statistics, 1997. (Monthly vital statistics report; vol 45, no. 11, suppl 1).

  5. Deardorff KE, Montgomery P, Hollmann FW. U.S. population estimates, by age, sex, race, and Hispanic origin, 1990 to 1995. Washington, DC: US Department of Commerce, Economics and Statistics Administration, Bureau of the Census, 1995; publication no. PPL-41.

  6. Bureau of the Census. Estimates of the resident population of states by single year of age and sex for July 1, 1995. Washington, DC: US Department of Commerce, Economics and Statistics Administration, Bureau of the Census, 1996; publication no. PE-38.

  7. Ventura SJ, Taffel SM, Mosher WD, Wilson JB, Henshaw S. Trends in pregnancies and pregnancy rates: estimates for the United States, 1980-92. Hyattsville, Maryland: US Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, CDC, National Center for Health Statistics, 1995. (Monthly vital statistics report; vol 43, no. 11, suppl).

  8. Koonin LM, Smith JC, Ramick M, Strauss LT, Hopkins FW. Abortion surveillance -- United States, 1993 and 1994. In: CDC surveillance summaries (August). MMWR 1997;46(no. SS-4):37-98.

  9. Kirby D. No easy answers: research findings on programs to reduce teen pregnancy. Washington, DC: The National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, 1997.

  10. US Department of Health and Human Services. A national strategy to prevent teenage pregnancy. Washington, DC: US Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, 1997.

    • State-specific rates for teenagers aged less than 15 years are excluded from this analysis because the numbers of births were too small to compute reliable rates for many states.



      Table_1
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      TABLE 1. Rate* of births for females aged <20 years, by age group and race/ethnicity -- United States, 1990-1996
      ===================================================================================================================
      Age group (yrs)/ Race/Ethnicity      1990      1991     1992     1993     1994      1995    1996 +
      -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
      10-14
       Hispanic &                           2.4       2.4      2.6      2.7      2.7       2.7      2.6
       White,non-Hispanic                   0.5       0.5      0.5      0.5      0.5       0.4      NA@
       Black **                             4.9       4.8      4.7      4.6      4.6       4.2      3.7
       American Indian/ Alaskan Native ++   1.6       1.6      1.6      1.4      1.9       1.8      1.8
       Asian/Pacific Islander               0.7       0.8      0.7      0.6      0.7       0.7      0.6
       Total                                1.4       1.4      1.4      1.4      1.4       1.3      1.2
      
      15-19
       Hispanic                           100.3     106.7    107.1    106.8    107.7     106.7    101.6
       White,non-Hispanic                  42.5      43.4     41.7     40.7     40.4      39.3       NA
       Black                              112.8     115.5    112.4    108.6    104.5      96.1     91.7
       American Indian/ Alaskan Native     81.1      85.0     84.4     83.1     80.8      78.0     75.1
       Asian/Pacific Islander              26.4      27.4     26.6     27.0     27.1      26.1     25.4
       Total                               59.9      62.1     60.7     59.6     58.9      56.8     54.7
      
      15-17
       Hispanic                            65.9      70.6     71.4     71.7     74.0      72.9     68.9
       White,non-Hispanic                  23.2      23.6     22.7     22.7     22.8      22.0       NA
       Black                               82.3      84.1     81.3     79.8     76.3      69.7     64.9
       American Indian/ Alaskan Native     48.5      52.7     53.8     53.7     51.3      47.8     47.0
       Asian/Pacific Islander              16.0      16.1     15.2     16.0     16.1      15.4     15.6
       Total                               37.5      38.7     37.8     37.8     37.6      36.0     34.0
      
      18-19
       Hispanic                           147.7     158.5    159.7    159.1    158.0     157.9    150.7
       White,non-Hispanic                  66.6      70.5     69.8     67.7     67.4      66.1       NA
       Black                              152.9     158.6    157.9    151.9    148.3     137.1    133.0
       American Indian/ Alaskan Native    129.3     134.3    132.6    130.7    130.3     130.7    124.3
       Asian/Pacific Islander              40.2      43.1     43.1     43.3     44.1      43.4     41.5
       Total                               88.6      94.4     94.5     92.1     91.5      89.1     86.5
      -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
      *  Per 1000 females.
      +  Data for 1996 are preliminary.
      &  Persons of Hispanic ethnicity may be of any race.
      @  Not available.
      ** Data for non-Hispanic blacks are not presented seperately from data for all blacks because
         both sets of data are virtually identical (97% of births to blacks are to non-Hispanic females).
      ++ Includes births to Aleuts and Eskimos.
      
      ===================================================================================================================
      ===================================================================================================================
      

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      Table_2
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      TABLE 2. Rate* of births for females aged 15-19 years, by age group and state, and percentage change
      for females aged 15-19 years -- United States, 1991 and 1995
      ======================================================================================================
                                       1991                   1995             % Change from 1991 to 1995
                             -----------------------  ----------------------   -----------------------------
      State                  15-17    18-19   15-19   15-17   18-19    15-19            15-19
      ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
      Alabama                 47.7    109.5    73.9    47.2   104.3     70.3            - 4.9
      Alaska                  35.3    111.7    65.4    29.6    81.2     50.2            -23.3
      Arizona                 51.4    122.6    80.7    47.7   121.0     75.7            - 6.2
      Arkansas                49.4    122.8    79.8    47.9   112.0     73.5            - 7.9
      California              46.9    113.6    74.7    43.4   107.0     68.2            - 8.7
      Colorado                35.3     91.4    58.2    32.7    80.3     51.3            -11.9
      Connecticut             26.3     59.4    40.4    26.6    59.7     39.3            - 2.8+
      Delaware                40.3     87.1    61.1    39.2    83.4     57.0            - 6.7+
      District of Columbia   102.8    125.5   114.4    78.3   145.7    106.8            - 6.6+
      Florida                 44.0    102.9    68.8    40.0    96.4     61.7            -10.3
      Georgia                 50.6    110.9    76.3    48.3   106.7     71.1            - 6.8
      Hawaii                  34.7     91.5    58.7    27.6    76.3     47.9            -18.4
      Idaho                   29.3     90.8    53.9    26.7    82.7     49.0            - 9.1
      Illinois                40.6     99.1    64.8    38.4    94.0     59.9            - 7.6
      Indiana                 35.2     95.2    60.5    34.7    92.2     57.5            - 5.0
      Iowa                    22.8     71.5    42.6    22.1    64.9     38.6            - 9.3
      Kansas                  29.4     94.1    55.4    29.9    87.6     52.2            - 5.8
      Kentucky                42.6    105.5    68.9    38.9    98.2     62.5            - 9.2
      Louisiana               51.1    111.4    76.1    45.3   106.8     69.9            - 8.1
      Maine                   23.8     70.1    43.5    19.2    56.7     33.6            -22.7
      Maryland                35.2     79.8    54.3    32.0    72.6     47.7            -12.2
      Massachusetts           25.2     52.9    37.8    21.7    53.5     34.3            - 9.2
      Michigan                35.5     91.1    59.0    30.1    79.3     49.2            -16.6
      Minnesota               20.7     61.4    37.3    19.4    53.8     32.4            -13.1
      Mississippi             60.1    120.4    85.6    57.7   115.2     80.6            - 5.9
      Missouri                38.7    100.7    64.5    32.6    91.9     55.5            -13.9
      Montana                 23.6     83.0    46.7    22.8    72.1     41.8            -10.6
      Nebraska                23.6     69.2    42.4    22.0    61.4     37.6            -11.3
      Nevada                  43.9    119.1    75.3    43.8   121.1     73.3            - 2.6+
      New Hampshire           17.1     53.8    33.3    14.6    57.1     30.5            - 8.4
      New Jersey              26.3     62.9    41.6    24.4    59.6     38.0            - 8.7
      New Mexico              50.0    124.4    79.8    48.9   115.2     74.5            - 6.6
      New York                29.1     69.0    46.0    27.6    69.1     44.0            - 4.3
      North Carolina          46.2    101.7    70.5    41.6    98.1     64.1            - 9.1
      North Dakota            18.1     62.4    35.6    17.8    58.5     33.5            - 5.9+
      Ohio                    36.2     93.8    60.5    32.6    85.7     53.4            -11.8
      Oklahoma                41.7    115.6    72.1    38.7   103.4     64.0            -11.3
      Oregon                  31.3     90.7    54.9    30.0    83.6     50.7            - 7.7
      Pennsylvania            29.2     70.5    46.9    26.2    65.9     41.7            -11.1
      Rhode Island            30.1     63.6    45.4    26.5    68.9     43.1            - 5.1+
      South Carolina          48.0    105.4    72.9    43.5    97.1     65.1            -10.7
      South Dakota            26.3     79.2    47.5    21.4    70.1     40.5            -14.8
      Tennessee               47.8    112.1    75.2    42.0   108.1     67.9            - 9.7
      Texas                   50.4    119.3    78.9    50.6   115.4     76.1            - 3.6
      Utah                    27.0     79.8    48.2    25.2    67.7     42.4            -12.0
      Vermont                 21.3     62.0    39.2    10.8    57.0     28.6            -26.9
      Virginia                31.8     81.2    53.5    30.7    74.8     48.7            - 9.1
      Washington              31.0     86.5    53.7    28.0    78.1     47.6            -11.3
      West Virginia           32.4     93.2    57.8    30.5    85.6     52.7            - 8.8
      Wisconsin               24.8     71.2    43.7    22.6    62.1     37.8            -13.5
      Wyoming                 26.4     98.6    54.2    24.6    84.5     47.2            -13.0
      
      Total                   38.7     94.4    62.1    36.0    89.1     56.8            - 8.5
      ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
      * Per 1000 females.
      + Not statistically significant at p<0.05. 

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      Figure_1

      Figure_1
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