- Associated Press - Saturday, December 5, 2015

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) - U.S. Census figures show Maine’s teen birth rate dropped by nearly half what it were a decade ago, and the state now ranks with New Hampshire and Vermont among the 10 states with the lowest teen birth rates in the country.

The Portland Press Herald reports (http://bit.ly/1lED9sA ) that Maine’s rate of 1.2 births per 100 women for ages 15-19 is nearly half of what it was a decade ago, when there were 2.1 births per 100 women in that age group. That rate ranks Maine as having the sixth lowest teen birthrate in the country, according to census data released earlier this week.

New Hampshire ranks first as having the lowest teen birthrate of .9 percent. Vermont ranks fourth with a teen birth rate of 1.1 percent.

Nationally, the birth rate for women ages 15 to 50 declined in the past decade from 4.9 births per 100 women to 4.7 births per 100 women.

For the first time, the annual U.S. Census American Community Survey released Thursday compares averages from two five-year periods - 2005-09 and 2010-14 - offering a detailed look at how America has changed over the 10-year span.

While the teen birth rate continued its steady decline in Maine, the survey shows unmarried Maine women accounted for 37.2 percent of all births, up from 30.8 percent in 2005.

Jennifer Thibodeau, a spokeswoman for Augusta-based Maine Family Planning, said educational efforts in schools have been effective in promoting. She said the curriculum goes beyond informing teens about sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy by also teaching teens about how to communicate with each other about consent, birth control and whether to have sex.

Thibodeau said improved access to birth control and more effective birth control methods also are helping to cut rates.

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