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Teen Birth Rates Fall 19% According to Kids Count 2001

6/18/2001:   In 1998, births to teenage girls in the United States fell to 30 per 1,000 girls, compared to 37 per 1,000 in 1990, according to the newly released "Kids Count 2001" report on 10 key indicators. Although the decline in births to teens is good news, the U.S. rate is still well above that of other developed countries. Births to teens are problematic, because opportunities for both mother and child are often diminished. Children born to teen mothers are:

  • Twice as likely to drop out of school and have their own children before age 20.

  • One and one-half times more likely to be unemployed and not in school in their late teens and early 20s.

  • Ten times more likely to live in poverty than a child born to a woman who is over age 18, and/or has completed high school, and/or is married.

The report notes that 51% of the fathers of children born to girls under age 18 were in their 20s, suggesting that pregnancy prevention programs aimed exclusively at teens miss an important segment of the population involved in the problem.

According to the report, the teen birth rate has declined because fewer teens (50% of those in high school) are having sex and those who do are increasingly using contraception. Of those who reported having sex in 1999, 58% said they used condoms. The decrease in sexual activity and increase in contraceptive use stem from a greater emphasis on delaying sexual activity, more responsible attitudes toward casual sex and out-of-wedlock births, more availability of long-lasting contraceptive methods, and an increased fear of sexually transmitted diseases, especially HIV.

To obtain the Kids Count 2001 report, with national and state-by-state data, go to the website of the sponsor, the Annie E. Casey Foundation and click on ‘Kids Count’ for the year and portion of the report that is desired.

For information on related topics, see the Kaiser Daily Reproductive Health Report, http://report.kff.org/repro from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, which, along with Seventeen magazine, also sponsors surveys of teen attitudes and behavior (see http://www.seventeen.com/sexsmarts).

Additional information on teen pregnancy and children born to teens can be found at http://www.cwla.org/pubs.

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