Monday, September 9th, 2013
Researchers at the National Center for Health Statistics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, both federal agencies, have released new data confirming that the number of babies born to teenaged mothers has dropped by 6 percentage points to 29.4 births per thousand in 2012–the lowest number since the agencies started collecting this data 73 years ago. The decline was across all racial and ethnic groups, and analysts attribute much of the drop to more women using effective birth control methods. More from NBC News:
The 2012 number is “a considerable one year drop,” says pediatrician Dr. John Santelli, a professor of population and family health at Columbia University who has no connection to the study. And it follows fairly sizable declines since 2007, when the rate was 41.5 births per thousand young women ages 15 to 19. In fact, except for a small uptick between 2005 and 2007, the teen birth rate has been steadily declining since 1991, when it reached 61.8 births per thousand.
“Our data comes from the birth certificate that parents complete at the hospital and it provides a wealth of information,” says Brady E. Hamilton, a statistician with the National Center for Health Statistics and the lead author of the report. But to figure out why the teen birth rate is falling, “we have to rely on other sources,” Hamilton says, such as surveys that the CDC conducts of high schoolers.
Santelli has studied those and other survey results. “There is not much evidence of a change in abortion use and not much change in sexual activity” since 2003, says Santelli. For example, the percentage of high school kids reporting ever having sexual intercourse was about 54 percent in 1991, according to the CDC survey, declined through 2002, and then held steady at about 47 percent through 2011, the last year of available data.
“What we have seen is greater availability of much more effective birth control methods,” says Santelli. While condom use increased substantially in the 1990s and early 2000s among high schoolers, it actually declined slightly after that, according to the CDC survey. At the same time, medical professionals have increasingly been recommending the IUD, a small, plastic device that is inserted and left inside the uterus to prevent pregnancy, says Santelli. While it does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases, it can be used in combination with a condom, which does offer such protection.
“Young people sometimes use condoms incorrectly, and sometimes they forget to use condoms,” says Santelli. “There is almost zero user error with the IUD. Once it is in place, it works every time.”
Image: Teenage couple, via Shutterstock
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Friday, May 24th, 2013
Teen birth rates have been declining steadily in recent years, but they now have shown marked declines in virtually every U.S. state, especially in the Mountain states and especially among the Hispanic population, according to a new government report. More from The Associated Press:
All states but West Virginia and North Dakota showed significant drops over five years. But the Mountain States of Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada and Utah saw rates fall by 30 percent or more.
In 22 states, teen Hispanic birth rates plunged at least 40 percent, which was described as “just amazing,” by the report’s lead author, Brady Hamilton of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
What’s driving the declines? No one can say for sure. Experts believe the explanation is complicated and probably varies a bit from state to state. The national figure has been falling since 1991, aside from a brief interruption in 2006 and 2007.
The CDC report released Thursday is based on birth certificates for 2007 through 2011. Last year, the CDC announced the overall improvement in teen births: a record low of 31 births per 1,000 teens ages 15 to 19. That compares with 42 births per 1,000 five years earlier.
Image: United States map, via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, April 30th, 2013
Newly released court papers document how a mother in the United Kingdom forced her 14-year-old daughter to become pregnant using syringes of donor sperm, apparently in a desperate attempt to have another child herself. After seven attempts at insemination, the daughter gave birth to a baby boy at age 17. More from Yahoo News:
In a ruling reported for the first time Monday, High Court judge Peter Jackson said the mother had behaved in “a wicked and selfish way” that almost defied belief.
The judge said the woman, an American divorcee living in Britain with three adopted children, hatched the plan after she was prevented from adopting a fourth.
The scheme involved getting her oldest daughter to inseminate herself with syringes of sperm purchased over the Internet from a Denmark-based company, Cryos International.
Jackson said the daughter, identified only as A, “became pregnant at the mother’s request, using donor sperm bought by the mother, with the purpose of providing a fourth child for the mother to bring up as her own.”
In his ruling, the judge quoted the teenager as saying said she was shocked by the suggestion, but thought, “If I do this … maybe she will love me more.”
“My mum is a very determined person and she does her best not to let anything get in her way if she wants it,” the teenager added.
The baby was taken into foster care custody, and the mother is serving a 5-year jail sentence for child cruelty.
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Tuesday, February 12th, 2013
Following the trend of recent years and decades, the number of babies born to teenaged mothers fell radically, dropping 8 percent between 2010 and 2011 alone, according to data from the National Center for Health Statistics published in the journal Pediatrics. The rate has dropped 25 percent since 2007, and 49 percent since 1991. More from NBC News:
“There is lots of good news in the report,” said Brady Hamilton, a statistician at the NCHS who led the study.
It’s good news because such births are almost always unplanned and the parents are rarely ready to cope with the responsibility of raising a baby. Teenaged moms are also more likely to have babies of a smaller-than-healthy weight or to have stillborn babies.
The study looks at numbers alone and doesn’t address changes in teen behavior. But other research suggests that teens are more easily able to get birth control, says Laura Lindberg, a senior researcher at the Guttmacher Institute.
“If anyone tells you they know exactly why this has happened, they are lying,” Lindberg said in a telephone interview. “We don’t have all the research and behavioral data in place up to 2011.”
That said, there are more than a few hints, according to Lindberg.
“We have gone from a social norm where you don’t use contraception at first sex to where you do,” she said. “Lots of study shows that using contraception at first sex begins a pattern of using it down the road.”
Other statistics show that teenage sex is only down slightly, although girls and boys both are having sex later in their teens. “In contrast, there is an increase in contraceptive use, particularly hormonal methods,” Lindberg said.
Image: Teenagers with pregnancy test, via Shutterstock
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Monday, October 8th, 2012
A new large-scale study has found that access to free contraceptive pills is part of the explanation for well-documented drops in the rates of both teen pregnancy and abortions. The finding comes just before the Obama administration’s health care law takes effect, including provisions that will offer birth control coverage to women nationwide. The Associated Press has more:
When price wasn’t an issue, women flocked to the most effective contraceptives — the implanted options, which typically cost hundreds of dollars up-front to insert. These women experienced far fewer unintended pregnancies as a result, reported Dr. Jeffrey Peipert of Washington University in St. Louis in a study published Thursday.
The effect on teen pregnancy was striking: There were 6.3 births per 1,000 teenagers in the study. Compare that to a national rate of 34 births per 1,000 teens in 2010.
There also were substantially lower rates of abortion, when compared with women in the metro area and nationally: 4.4 to 7.5 abortions per 1,000 women in the study, compared with 13.4 to 17 abortions per 1,000 women overall in the St. Louis region, Peipert calculated. That’s lower than the national rate, too, which is almost 20 abortions per 1,000 women.
In fact, if the program were expanded, one abortion could be prevented for every 79 to 137 women given a free contraceptive choice, Peipert’s team reported in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology.
Image: Birth control pills, via Shutterstock
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