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Teen Mom Rate Drops to a Record Low in Massachusetts

Update Date: Apr 02, 2013 10:08 AM EDT

The numbers of teenagers who become parents are declining in Massachusetts, a sign that suggests that teenagers are getting more information about sex and safety within this state. The rate has declined over the past 25 years to the point where it is currently sitting at its lowest point in history.  Aside from the decline in teen births, the study also announced other positive trends, such as a small decline in infant mortality, less pregnant smokers, and more mothers choosing to breastfeed. Despite these new trends, experts report that more effort still needs to be put into promoting young girls and mothers in making better lifestyle choices for themselves and their children.

The Massachusetts Birth Report conducted the study and took data compiled from 2010. The researchers analyzed the information and concluded that in 2010, there was a 2,000-drop in the number of babies born, which represents a 3 percent drop from 2009 and a 21 percent drop from 1990. The researchers determined that the teen birth rate dropped 12 percent from 2009 to 2010, with the current number of 17.1 births per 1,000 teenage girls from the ages of 15 to 19. This number shows a huge improvement in the number of teen births since its peak in 1989 when the rate was 35.9 births per 1,000 teenagers.

"Youth behavior data shows that rates of sexual activity have not changed significantly, so it appears that much of the decline in teen birthrates can be attributed to youth effectively using contraception," said Patricia Quinn, the executive director of the Massachusetts Alliance on Teen Pregnancy. This finding suggests that there are more conversations happening between teenagers and adults about safe sex and sex education.

Despite this positive find, the researchers noted that there were still huge discrepancies among teenage mother rates based on ethnicity and social status, which stresses the importance of educating the entire public and providing better access to sex education for those who cannot get it. The researchers found that the rate of Hispanic teenage pregnancy was nearly five times the rate of white teenagers.

Along with the trend toward fewer teenage pregnancies, the researchers also found that women were having babies at a much later date. The percentage of mothers who were 30 and over jumped from 25 percent in 1980 to 54 percent in 2010. In addition, the researchers stated that the overall infant mortality rate decreased from 4.9 deaths per 1,000 live births to 4.4 deaths. However, once again, the rates were different when it came to race. The infant mortality rate for African American babies alone was 8.2 deaths per 1,000 live births, a number that is way too high.

Aside from the fact that there is an imbalance between races, the state was happy to find that the overall numbers were positive. These new numbers show that certain campaigns are influencing the actions of new mothers and young women. The state has been adamantly pushing for new mothers to choose breastfeeding over formula and it found that there was at least a one percent increase in mothers choosing to breastfeed. Although the majority of mothers are starting to adapt better lifestyle choices for them and their babies, the state acknowledges that more still needs to be done to keep the numbers low and to help lower the rates for minority groups. 

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