California’s teen birth rate dropped to a record low in 2010, Dr. Ron Chapman, director of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and state public health officer, announced today. The rate declined to 29.0 births for every 1,000 females ages 15-19, from the rate of 32.1 births in 2009. The teen birth rate has declined since 1991 when it reached a record high of 70.9 births.
“Teen pregnancy has been a long-standing public health challenge associated with increased maternal and infant morbidity and mortality,” said Dr. Chapman. “Early teenage childbearing has been recognized to have negative health and social consequences to adolescent mothers, but we must continue to work together if we are to reduce the state’s teen birth rates even further.”
Teen birth rates also declined in all major racial/ethnic groups. Teens age 18-19 experienced a decline of 9 percent (from 53.5 in 2009 to 48.6 in 2010), and teens age 15-17 saw a drop from 17.5 to 15.2, representing a 13 percent reduction. While Hispanic teens age 15-19 continued to have the highest birth rate in 2010, they demonstrated the second highest decline at 11 percent between 2009 and 2010. Hispanic teen birth rates dropped from 50.8 in 2009 to 45.0 in 2010. African-American teen birth rate was 37.0 in 2009; it dropped to 34.0 in 2010, representing a decrease of 8 percent. Asian/Pacific Islander teens and White teens had reductions of 14 and 8 percent, respectively.
California’s teen population appears to be leveling-off, however changes in its composition can influence the teen birth rate. In 2000, nearly equal proportions of female teens were Hispanic (39%) and White (38%); by 2010, Hispanics comprised 47% and Whites 33%.
California continued to implement a number of programs aimed at preventing teen pregnancy. California administers programs that offer comprehensive and diverse approaches to address the cultural and individual factors influencing behavior, particularly directed toward population subgroups exhibiting high teen birth rates.
Declines reflect the impact of strong teenage pregnancy prevention messages that accompany a variety of public and private efforts to focus on adolescents’ attention on the critical importance of avoiding early childbearing. CDPH funds a variety of teen pregnancy prevention programs that include the Information and Education Program, the Adolescent Family Life Program, and the Family PACT (Planning, Access, Care and Treatment) Program. In 2011, CDPH was awarded a Personal Responsibility Education Program grant from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Administration to focus services in 19 counties in California with teen birth rates that have consistently remained higher than the statewide teen birth rates.
“The continuing decline in teen birth rates underscores the importance of teen pregnancy prevention programs in California,” said Dr. Chapman. “We must continue our work to achieve yet another milestone next year.”