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Teen Health

Teenage Birth Rates Are Down

Study Shows a Drop in Birth Rates for Teenage Girls Aged 15 to 17
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WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

July 6, 2011 -- Adolescent injury deaths have dropped in recent years, and so have percentages of childhood and preterm births, according to a new federal report on the overall well-being of America's youth.

The report, "America's Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being 2011," says injury deaths of children ages 5 to 14 dropped from 6.1 per 100,000 in 2008 to 5.7 per 100,000 in 2009.

In that period, injury deaths declined from 44 per 100,000 to 39 per 100,000 among 15-to-19-year olds.

But not all statistics highlighted in the massive report are rosy. For example, a higher proportion of eighth graders used illicit drugs in the period studied, more children lived in poverty, 59% of children lived in counties where air pollutants were above safe standards, and the poverty rate for all children increased from 18% in 2007 to 21% in 2009.

Snapshot of U.S. Adolescents

Among key findings in the report:

  • The birth rate of girls ages 15-17 was 20.1 per 1,000 adolescents in 2009, a decline from 21.7 in 2008 and 22.1 in 2007.
  • The preterm birth rate (born before 37 weeks) declined from 12.3% in 2008 to 12.2% in 2009.
  • Fewer 12th graders engaged in binge drinking in the years examined. Students in 12th grade who said they had five or more alcoholic beverages in a row at least once in the past two weeks dropped from 25% in 2009 to 23% in 2010.
  • Adolescent coverage for the meningococcal vaccine went up from 32% in 2007 to 54% in 2009.
  • About 10% of children (7.5 million) had no health insurance in 2009.
  • 75% of children from birth through age 17 lived with at least one parent employed year round full-time in 2008, compared to 72% in 2009.
  • There were 50.6 births for every 1,000 unmarried women between 15 and 44 in 2009; 41% of all births were to unmarried women.
  • In 2007, 48% of high school students reported ever having had sexual intercourse; that dropped to 46% in 2009.
  • Illicit drug use in the previous 30 days among eighth grade students rose from 8% in 2009 to almost 10% in 2010.
  • As of 2008, about 2.5% of U.S. children had joined families through adoption.
  • Infant mortality, meaning deaths before the first birthday, went down in 2009 at 6.4 per 1,000, compared to 6.6 in 2008.
  • Obesity for kids 6 to 17 years old rose from 17% in 2005-2006 to 19% in 2007-2008.
  • The percentage of 12th graders who smoke cigarettes remained fairly stable at 11%.  
  • There were 74.2 million children from birth to 17 in the U.S. in 2010, or 24% of the population.
  • The racial and ethnic diversity of America's children has grown dramatically. In 2023, fewer than half of all children are projected to be white, non-Hispanic.

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