US teen birth rate down, but still high

June 1, 2011

Although teen birth rates in the US have declined over the past 20 years, they remain higher than in other developed nations, according to a new report.

Although teen birth rates in the United States have declined over the past 20 years, they remain higher than in other developed nations, according to the latest Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report on the subject.

In 2009, approximately 410,000 US teens between 15 and 19 years of age gave birth. The national teen birth rate was 39.1 births per 1,000 females, a 37% decrease from 61.8 births per 1,000 females in 1991 and the lowest rate ever recorded.

According to the report, rates vary significantly among states, from a low of 16.4 to a high of 64.2 births per 1,000 females. Rates were highest in southern states and in African American (59.0 births per 1,000 females) and Hispanic (70.1 births per 1,000 females) teens, compared with Caucasian teens (25.6 births per 1,000 females).

Of female and male teens, 65% and 53%, respectively, report having received formal sex education, including discussion of saying no to sex and methods of birth control. Overall, 44% of female teens and 27% of males report speaking with a parent about both topics, but among those who ever had sex, 20% of females and 31% of males report not having spoken with a parent about either topic.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Vital signs: teen pregnancy-United States, 1991-2009. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2011;60(13):414-420.