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Massachusetts’ Teen Birth Rate Lowest in State History

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

 

Massachusetts can claim a historic reduction in teen births, according to the latest state and national reports.

There's good news when it comes to teen births in Massachusetts--the rates are dropping in both teen births and repeat teen births, according to two reports released recently.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health Birth Report reveals that Massachusetts has the lowest teen birth rate in the history of the study, at 50 percent below the national average. The latest 2010 teen birth rate of 17.1 births per 1,000 women ages 15-19 was the lowest teen birth rate ever recorded, representing a decline of 12 percent from 2009.

“This report is good news for Massachusetts families,” said Governor Deval Patrick. “The work we do in promoting public health has a real impact on the lives of children and families across the state.”

The Massachusetts Birth Report also shows that of the 3,907 teen births in 2010, the most recent year available, 86.8% were first time teen births, with only 13.2% repeat teen births.

Strides in public health

“These results show that we continue to make great strides in public health,” said Health and Human Services Secretary John Polanowicz. “This is also a testament to the hard work and effort of our partners, including health care providers, community-based organizations and schools.”

"The state-wide decrease in teen births is very encouraging and highlights the fact that young people are making healthy choices when they have access to contraception and medically-accurate information” said Marty Walz, President and Chief Executive Officer, Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts. “To continue this positive trend, local officials and schools must take appropriate steps to ensure that their young people have access to comprehensive sex education to help delay sex and encourage correct, consistent use of protection if and when they become sexually active."

This data correlates with new statistics released yesterday in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report regarding the prevalence and health implications of repeat births among teens. Based on 2010 nationwide data from the National Vital Statistics System, of more than 367,000 births to teens aged 15–19 years, 18.3% were repeat births. This data shows a 6.2% decrease between 2007 and 2010; however, nearly one in five teen births is still a repeat birth.

Repeat teen birth: CDC report

Repeat teen birth is officially defined as having two or more pregnancies resulting in a live birth before the age of 20 years. The CDC analyzed the data on repeat teen birth by state and found that in the Northeastern states, fewer than 15% of teen births were repeat births, in comparison to over 20% of repeat births in Southern and Western states.

The prevalence of repeat teen births also varied by race/ethnicity, with the highest prevalence in 2010 among American Indian/Alaska Natives (21.6%), followed by Hispanics (20.9%), non-Hispanic blacks (20.4%), Asian or Pacific Islanders (17.6%), and non- Hispanic whites (14.8%).

Repeat births pose many risks to both teen mothers and their children. Additional births can further prevent mothers from attending school and obtaining job experience. Repeat births also have health consequences for the infant; 17.0% of infants who were second teen births were born preterm in 2010, compared with 12.6% for first births. Also, 11% of second teen birth infants were of low birth weight, compared with 9% of first births. Each year teen childbearing costs the United States approximately $11 billion.

More work to be done

Although teen births are declining in Massachusetts, it is important that measures still be taken to lower the percentage of teen pregnancies. Nationwide research among teen mothers reveals that prenatal counseling and home visiting programs can reduce repeat teen pregnancy and increase the likelihood of teens using more effective methods of contraception.

Other strategies to decrease the likelihood of repeat teen births include: providing pregnant and parenting teens sources of educational, economic, and social support after a child is born; counseling teens about abstinence and contraception as a way to prevent pregnancy; promoting condom use to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections; and encouraging providers to offer postpartum contraception to teens.

To view the CDC’s full report, click here.

 

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