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Teen Birth Rates in the US Record a Historic Low

Update Date: Feb 11, 2013 06:01 AM EST

Teen birth rate in the U.S. recorded a historic low in 2011, with just 31.3 births per 1,000 teens - a drop of 8 percent from 2010 - for teens between the ages 15-19, a federal government report said.

According to the report called "Annual Summary of Vital Statistics: 2010-2011", birth rates for teens as well as women aged 20 to 29 years dropped, while birth rates for women aged between 35 and 44 years increased.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that the teen birth rate fell 11 percent for women aged 15-17 years, and 7 percent for women aged 18-19 years. During the early 90s, the teen birth rate was around 60 births per 1,000 teens.

Previously, a CDC report had shown that teen birth in the U.S. had recorded a drop of 44 percent in 2010 (compared to the 90s) with a birth rate of 34.3 births per 1,000 women in the 15 to 19 age group. Although teen birth rate in the country has dropped, it still remains one of the highest among the developed nations.

Why are we seeing a drop in teen birth rates?

Experts aren't really sure why the country has had a drop in teenage pregnancies over the past few years. According to CDC, fewer teens are reporting sexual activity and those who do seem to use birth control methods.

Recently, a policy statement from American Academy of Pediatrics had said that teens are more likely to use emergency contraception if it is prescribed in advance. The agency had recommended doctors to counsel and help teens get access to emergency contraception.

"If anyone tells you they know exactly why this has happened, they are lying. We don't have all the research and behavioral data in place up to 2011," Laura Lindberg, a senior researcher at the Guttmacher Institute, told NBC News.

Falling economy behind low birth rates

Brady Hamilton, a statistician, believes the economy might be behind the falling birth rates among teens and young women.

"The economy has declined, and that certainly is a factor that goes into people's decisions about having a child," Hamilton, lead author of the new report, told Reuters Health."Women may say to themselves, 'It's not a particularly good time right now... let's wait a little bit.'"

The researchers also found that had the teen birth rates not decreased in the past two decades, there would have been 3.6 million more babies in the country, reports Reuters Health.

The report is available in Pediatrics.  

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