Teens giving birth in the United States has dropped to a new low record, according to a federal report.
The new rate, 31.3 births per 1,000 women ages 15-19, is about half the 1991 rate of 61.8 births per 1,000 teens, which was an all-time high, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.
From 2007 to 2011, which is the most recent time period studied, rates fell 25 percent, from 41.5 to about 31.
During that time, rates fell at least 30 percent in seven states, and both Arizona and Utah saw a 35 percent drop, said Brady Hamilton, a statistician at the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics and a co-author of the report, which was released Thursday.
When researchers took a look into birth rates by ethnicity, the decline was the most dramatic for Hispanics, with drops averaging 34 percent overall during the 2007 to 2011 period.
In the past, Hispanic’s had a higher birth rate. By 2011, Hispanic teens was just 4 percent higher than other ethnic backgrounds. In the most recent period studied, birth rates for black teens declined 24 percent, while white teens showed a 20 percent drop.
But why the decline? No one is really for sure, but experts believe the explanation is complicated and varies from state to state. The national figure has been falling since 1991, aside from an incline briefly in 2006 and 2007.
Dr. Janet Realini, head of Healthy Futures of Texas, a San Antonio-based organization focused on preventing teen and unplanned pregnancies believes the reason for the drop is because, “There is more attention on education, career, and the future.”
“The overall improvement, though, is something to celebrate,” said Bill Albert, chief program officer of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.
“Geography, politics, or policy alone simply cannot explain the widespread declines,” Albert said in an email to The Associated Press. “Credit goes to teens themselves who are clearly making better decisions about sex, contraception, and their future.”
“There are still areas where teen births are high and that needs to be examined in greater detail,” Hamilton concluded. State policymakers, for instance, could use the information to address changes to their education programs.
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