MONDAY, Feb. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Teen birth rates have dropped yet again, reaching a historic low, and the number of babies being born early or with a low birth weight has also declined, a new U.S. government report shows.
Many factors may account for the improvement, experts say.
"We talk more about teen pregnancy, the responsibility of having a child and how difficult it is to be a teen mom. We also talk about contraception and abstinence more," explained Dr. Jill Rabin, chief of ambulatory care, obstetrics and gynecology at Long Island Jewish Medical Center, in New Hyde Park, N.Y.
"Adults have to remember we're fighting the adolescent sex drive that developed as a matter of survival of the species," Rabin said. "It's important to remember the three I's when you're working with teens. They think they're immortal, invincible and infertile. We have to convince them otherwise and dispel the myths, and the message needs repetition."
As for the decrease in preterm and low-birth-weight babies, Rabin noted that "prenatal care is getting better, and the message of the importance of prenatal care is getting out there."
The report, from the National Center for Health Statistics branch of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, documented declines in the three areas: The teen birth rate fell to 31.3 births per 1,000 women aged 15 to 19 in 2011. Twenty years ago, that rate was 61.8 per 1,000 teenage girls. And, for the fifth straight year, the preterm birth rate dropped, to 11.7 percent in 2011 from 12.8 percent in 2006. The rate for low-birth-weight babies also declined, from 8.15 percent in 2010 to 8.1 percent in 2011.
The report was published online Feb. 11 and will appear in the March print issue of the journal Pediatrics.
One expert noted that the three birth trends are often intertwined.
"Teen pregnancies are associated with pr
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