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Statcast Number 2 Transcript

DATE: December 5, 2007

PUBLICATION: “Births: Preliminary Data for 2006"

SPOKESPERSON: Stephanie Ventura, head of the Reproductive Statistics Branch, talks about the increase in teen births in the U.S., the first increase in 14 years.

VENTURA: When you look at the data from births to unmarried women you see that less than 1/4 of births to unmarried women are to teenagers. So teenage childbearing and out-of-wedlock childbearing are no longer synonymous... Actually, the biggest increases in unmarried births are to women in their twenties...

ANNOUNCER: "Statcast... December 5, 2007"

HOST: Stephanie Ventura heads up the Reproductive Statistics Branch at the CDC National Center for Health Statistics. We sat down with Stephanie to talk about the latest data released on births in the

VENTURA: I think our biggest finding is the increase in the teen birth rate, which interrupts a 14 year period of steady declines since 1991. Actually, the teen birth rate itself went up 3% and that's quite a large one year increase. And the increase was seen for all population groups and for all age groups in the teen population. The only group that did not experience an increase was the youngest teens 10 to 14 years old that group actually experienced a continued decline in their birth rate.

HOST: Did this increase in teen births occur across all race/ethnic groups?

VENTURA: Well, the increase was actually seen for all race/ethnic groups, but there were differences... the largest increase was seen among black teenagers. And increases were also pretty substantial for white teenagers and American Indian teenagers.

HOST: OK, so why the increase after all these years?

VENTURA: It's really too soon to say because we have just one year of data showing this increase... it could be the start of a new trend or could be just one year interruption in the long term decline. So it'll take some time before we can piece together what the factors might be.

HOST: I see there's also some big news in the report about unmarried childbearing.

VENTURA: Yes, unmarried childbearing has actually been on the rise since 2002 and with really quite substantial increases from year to year. And we saw the the largest single year increases in 2006 that we've seen in a long time.

HOST: And do we have any information as to why this would happen?

VENTURA: Well, it's too soon to say on that one, too, because even though we have a few years of data we - one thing we do know is that a large increase in the proportion of unmarried couples in cohabiting relationships and a significant portion of the births to unmarried women are to those couples. So that's one factor that we should keep in mind.

HOST: So are these two problems related - the increase in teen births and the increase in unmarried childbearing?

VENTURA: Not really. I think the -- when you look at the data from births to unmarried women you see that less than 1/4 of births to unmarried women are to teenagers. So teenage childbearing and out-of-wedlock childbearing are no longer synonymous... Actually, the biggest increases in unmarried births are to women in their twenties... If you just look at the women in their early twenties - about 60% of their births are to unmarried women.

HOST: OK, anything else in the report you'd like to discuss?

VENTURA: One of the striking things in this data for 2006 is that the birth rates were increased for women in all age groups, not just for teenagers. So the result of that is what we call the lifetime fertility or the total fertility rate actually increased to a higher level unseen in 35 years... The average woman, if she has her children at the same rate that we're seeing right now will end up with about 2.1 births over her lifetime.

On the health side, we've got a number of important findings... uh -- one of them is that the caesarean delivery rate rose to another record level - it's increased about 50% just in the last decade and more than 31 percent of all births were delivered by caesarean delivery in 2006.

HOST: And do we have any idea why this is happening?

VENTURA: There's been a lot of speculation and actually lot of research that is ongoing about this increase. It could be changes in obstetric delivery and so forth, but this needs a lot more research.

HOST: Any final words?

VENTURA: Uh - two other important key or important health measures are the percent of births that are low birth weight and the percent of births that are born pre-term - that's less than 37 weeks of gestation. Both of those continued to increase in 2006 and have been on a steady increase for, since back in the early 1980s. So that's troubling because babies who are born too small or too soon are at a much elevated risk of dying in the first year of life.

HOST: And why is this happening?

VENTURA: Well, some of it is associated with the increase in multiple births which has been ongoing but even when you just look at singleton births, we see their increases in low birthweight and pre-term births so it's obviously that other factors that are influencing these changes.

HOST: Our thanks to Stephanie Ventura for joining us on this edition of Statcast. This has been a production of the CDC National Center for Health Statistics.

 
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