Teenage motherhood is now more rare in the United States than at any time since record-keeping began.
According to new data released by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Center for Health Statistics, only 39.1 of 1000 girls between the ages of 15 and 19 had a baby in 2009.
That is a six percent decline from 2008 and the lowest proportion since records were first kept 70 years ago.
Since 1991 the rate of births to girls between the ages of 15 and 19 has fallen by 37 percent.
Births to teenagers between the ages of 10 and 14 were also the lowest on record in 2009, with only 0.5 births per 1,000 girls in that age range occurring.
The study also shows that the percentage of births by unmarried women accounted for by teenagers has dropped from a high of 52 percent in 1975 to 21 percent in 2009.
Teen birth rates dropped for girls of all racial and ethnic groups in 2009.
The teen birth rate had moved upward in 2007 and 2008.
“We now are, thankfully, back on track,” Sarah Brown, the chief executive officer of The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, said. “Still, The Grinch among us recognizes that what goes down can go back up again. Even when the news is good, it is essential that parents, practitioners, policymakers, and really anyone who cares about teenagers remember that the U.S. still has the highest rates of teen pregnancy and births among comparable countries and that we all need to continue helping teens postpone their families until they are older, through school, and in stable, committed relationships.”
The statistical analysis also shows that the total number of births to American women of all ages declined by three percent between 2008 and 2009, from 4,247,694 to 4,131,019. The total number of births was lower among all racial and ethnic groups.
CDC also said that the crude birth rate for Americans as a whole was 13.5 per 1,000 members of the population, the lowest ever recorded and a decline of four percent from 2008.
The crude birth rate is the number of births during the year divided by the person-years lived by the population during that same year. It is not the same thing as the total fertility rate, which is the average number of children born to a woman during her lifetime.
The report excludes birth data from American territories and is based on data submitted by all fifty states. Only Nevada, Oklahoma, and South Carolina failed to report all births within their boundaries in 2009, and even in those states the CDC received information about, respectively, 99.8 percent, 99.91 percent, and 99.99 percent of the births.
The statistical analysis released by CDC and NCHS does not discuss possible reasons for the decline in birth rates.