Teen birth rates on the rise

WASHINGTON – U.S. teen birth rates rose sharply in 2006, according to figures released Wednesday by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, ending a 14-year decline.

While U.S. teen birth rates remained the highest in the industrialized world, the long decline had amounted to a 45 percent reduction since 1991.

According to the figures for 2006, the latest year for which data are available, birth rates for teens aged 15 to 19 rose by 3.5 percent. The increase marks the largest growth in teen birth rates since 1989-1990.

Analysts at liberal and conservative teen-pregnancy awareness groups had begun to notice the declines leveling off in recent years. Though dismayed, they weren’t surprised by the upward spike.

The 2006 increase for teens 15 to 19 was from 40.5 per 1,000 to 41.9. The increases were greatest through the South and Southwest, and lowest in the Northeast.

Mississippi had the highest birth rate: 68.4 births per 1,000 teens ages 15 to 19. New Mexico and Texas trailed close behind.

New Hampshire, Vermont and Massachusetts had the lowest birth rates. The only states with declines in teen birth rates from 2005 to 2006 were North Dakota, Rhode Island and New York.

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