- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Teen births have become less common in most states, among both high-school-age girls and college-age girls, the federal government says in a report released Wednesday.

The state-by-state analysis helps explain why teen births fell to their lowest point since 1940, or nearly 70 years, in 2009.

Between 2007 and 2009, there were fewer births to high-school-age girls in 31 states, the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) said in its new Data Brief.

In addition, 45 states reported fewer births among its older teen girls.

Taken together, it’s not surprising that the overall teen birthrate fell to a historic low of 39.1 per 1,000 girls aged 15-19 in 2009.

In fact, teen birthrates have fallen, almost without interruption, since 1991, said the report, written by veteran NCHS researchers Stephanie J. Ventura and Brady E. Hamilton.

Reasons for the declines include significant reductions in teen sexual activity — which coincided with the spread of abstinence education and myriad campaigns on teen-pregnancy prevention — and increased use of contraceptives. The latter are a frequent topic in sex-education programs and on Internet sexual-health sites.

New information from the National Survey of Family Growth, to be released later this year, “may be helpful in identifying the factors associated with the declines in teenage birthrates,” said the authors.

Meanwhile, between 2007 and 2009:

• States with the biggest declines in births to high-school-age teens (aged 15-17) were Virginia, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Illinois, Minnesota, Nevada, Utah and Arizona.

• West Virginia was the lone state to see increases in its births to high-school-age girls.

• States with biggest declines in births to college-age teens (aged 18-19) were Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Minnesota, Wyoming, Idaho, Nevada, Utah and Arizona.