TUESDAY, Dec. 21 (HealthDay News) -- Teen births in the United States reached a record low in 2009, as births to teenagers fell 6 percent from the previous year to the lowest level seen in almost seven decades, health officials reported Tuesday.
The birth rate for 15- to 19-year-olds, which has declined 16 out of the past 18 years, dropped to 39.1 births per 1,000 teens in 2009, according to a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"One of the biggest highlights is the continuing decline in teen births -- down to record lows," said report co-author, Brady Hamilton, a statistician at CDC's National Center for Health Statistics.
The decline in teen pregnancy is largely because of a drop in vaginal intercourse, said Dr. Lawrence B. Friedman, a professor of pediatrics and director of the division of adolescent medicine at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.
"That doesn't mean decreases in sexual activity, but just alternate intimacies that teenagers are discovering or rediscovering," he said. "There is also increased use of effective contraception."
Total births declined for the second year in a row, with the number of births falling from 4,247,694 in 2008 to 4,131,019 in 2009. Early data from this year indicate the trend is continuing.
The CDC is reluctant to suggest causes for their findings, but Hamilton said the ailing economy may be partly responsible for the lower overall birth rate. Since more women are waiting longer to have babies that too is reflected in the declining birth rate, he said.
Factors such as education and career choices account for some of the delayed births, Hamilton said. "In addition, technology has allowed women to give birth later in life," he said.
Another expert agrees with Hamilton's analysis.
"People are getting pregnant later," said Dr. Leo B. Twiggs, chairman of
All rights reserved