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CDC Releases Natality and Teenage Pregnancy Reports

For Release September 21, 1995

Contact: CDC (404) 639-3286

Teenage births are down nationwide and teenage pregnancy declined in a majority of States, according to two new reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released September 21, 1995. CDC also reports that the rate of unmarried childbearing among women of all ages may have stabilized, and the agency released new findings on maternal and infant health.

Although the 1993 teenage birth rate is still higher than 20 years ago, the birth rate for those age 15-19 years declined 4 percent from 1991 to 1993, according to the Monthly Vital Statistics Report (MVSR) "Advance Report of Final Natality Statistics, 1993," the annual report on birth patterns in the United States from CDC's National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). Teenage pregnancy rates (including both births and abortions) were down in a majority of States as reported in "State-Specific Pregnancy and Birth Rates Among Teenagers--United States, 1991-1992," in the September 22, 1995, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), also being released today. "Although these findings are encouraging, we clearly still need to do more to reduce teen pregnancy," said DHHS Secretary Donna E. Shalala.

After increasing steadily between 1986 and 1991, the birth rate for teenagers 15-17 years declined 2 percent from 1991 to 1992 and was unchanged in 1993 at 37.8 births per 1,000. The birth rate for older teenagers 18-19 years was down 3 percent in 1993, to 92.1 per 1,000.

Pregnancy rates for teenagers declined in 30 of 41 reporting States and in the District of Columbia from 1991 to 1992. Decreases in teenage pregnancy are reflected in a decline in both abortion and birth rates, with greater declines noted in the abortion rates. There were a wide range in pregnancy rates by State, from 53.7 per 1,000 women age 15-19 years in Wyoming to 106.9 for Georgia. Rates increased significantly in only two States.

In 1993 there were over one-half million births to teenagers -- over 200,000 to those not even 18 years of age. The teenage population is growing, and if teenage birth rates do not continue to decline, there will be a rise in the number of teenage births over the next few years.

The 1993 annual natality report also documents that the rate of nonmarital childbearing has been essentially unchanged for 3 consecutive years, at 45.3 births per 1,000 unmarried women aged 15-44 years in 1993. Prior to this period, there had been a 50-year rise in childbearing by unmarried women, and from 1980 to 1991 the rate increased 54 percent. Nonmarital births totaled just over 1.2 million in 1993 and accounted for 31 percent of all births that year.

The birth rate for unmarried teenagers leveled off between 1991 and 1993, showing the same pattern as that for all unmarried women. The vast majority of teenage births are nonmarital (72 percent) but teenage unmarried births account for only 30 percent of all nonmarital births.

Overall, births in the United States declined in 1993 for the third consecutive year, to just over 4 million. The birth rate per 1,000 total population declined to 15.5, its lowest point in 15 years. Birth rates for women in their twenties, the peak childbearing ages, declined in 1993 by 2 percent.

After rising steadily for almost two decades, birth rates for women in their thirties appear to have stabilized, recording just modest increases for the past few years. Still, there were more than 900,000 births to women in their early thirties, and the number of births to women aged 35-39 years, 357,000, was higher than in any year since 1960.

More than 100,000 babies were born in multiple deliveries in 1993, the highest number ever reported. Live births in twin delivery increased 1 percent while the number of triplet and higher-order plural births rose 7 percent. The report documents maternal medical and lifestyle risk factors during pregnancy and their impact on the health of the infant.

  • Cigarette smoking during pregnancy declined to 15.8 percent, down from 19.5 percent in 1989, the first year that information on smoking was recorded on the birth certificate. Smoking during pregnancy declined in all age groups; still almost a quarter of young white and American Indian women, aged 15-24 years, smoked during pregnancy. Smoking is a key risk factor for low birthweight and infant mortality.
  • The most frequently reported medical risk factors continued to be anemia, diabetes, and pregnancy-related hypertension.
  • Prenatal care utilization improved in 1993, following more than a decade of little change, with 79 percent of mothers receiving care in the first trimester. Fewer than 5 percent of mothers had late or no care, the lowest level since 1969.
  • The cesarean delivery rate declined again in 1993, to 21.8 percent of all births, continuing the downward trend noted in recent years following a rapid and steady increase through the late 1980's. The vaginal birth after cesarean delivery (VBAC) rate increased 8 percent in 1993.

Other measures of maternal and infant health were not so positive the annual report shows.

  • Preterm births (prior to 37 completed weeks) increased 3 percent in 1993 to 11 percent of all births and almost one in five black infants.
  • Low birthweight increased from 7.1 to 7.2 percent, the highest level reported since 1976. Most of the rise occurred among white births (6.0 percent), but low birthweight is still much higher among black infants (13.3). Low birthweight contributes to three-quarters of all infant deaths.

Data in the "Advance Report of Final Natality Statistics, 1993," are based on the birth certificates filed in State vital statistics offices and reported to NCHS through the Vital Statistics Cooperative Program. "State-Specific Pregnancy and Birth Rates Among Teenagers--United States, 1991-1992," is based on birth certificate data as well as abortions reported to the Division of Reproductive Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Both centers are part of CDC, U.S. Public Health Service, within the DHHS.

NOTE: For further information regarding these individual reports, please contact Rachel Kaufmann or Lisa Koonin at 404-488-5200 for the report "State-Specific Pregnancy and Birth Rates Among Teenagers--United States, 1991-1992," MMWR; please contact Stephanie Ventura at 301-436-8954 or Sandy Smith at 301-463-7551 for the "Advance Report of Final Natality Statistics, 1993," MVSR. The NCHS, Office of Public Affairs can be reached via e-mail at paoquery@cdc.gov.

Advance Report of Final Natality Statistics, 1993. Vol. 44 No. 3 supplement. 88 pp. (PHS) 95-1120 [PDF - 750 KB]

 
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