SACRAMENTO – California’s adolescent birth rate continues to decline, the California Department of Public Health announced Oct. 3. A new state report indicates a record low of 13.9 births per 1,000 females between the ages of 15 and 19. Those numbers reflect an 11.5 percent decline between 2016 and 2017.
The declining rate can be attributed to a number of factors, including improved access to reproductive health services and increased use of contraception; delayed first sexual intercourse; and public health prevention, education and support programs.
“California’s commitment to ensuring access to reproductive health care services and sexual health education are helping teens make safe and healthy choices about pregnancy prevention,” Acting State Public Health Officer Dr. Charity Dean said in a prepared statement.
Despite these declining birth rates, racial disparities persist in adolescent childbearing in California. African-American and Hispanic adolescents are three to four times as likely to give birth as White youth. Rates also vary dramatically across counties: the county with the highest adolescent birth rate has a rate 5.4 times greater than the county with the lowest .adolescent birth rate.
California’s adolescent birth rate mirrors what is happening on the national level, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the nation’s public health agency.
In 2017, a total of 194,377 babies were born to women aged 15–19 years, for a birth rate of 18.8 per 1,000 women in this age group. This is another record low for U.S. teens and a drop of 7% from 2016. Birth rates fell 10% for women aged 15–17 years and 6% for women aged 18–19 years.
Although reasons for the declines are not totally clear, evidence suggests these declines are due to more teens abstaining from sexual activity, and more teens who are sexually active using birth control than in previous years.
Still, the U.S. teen pregnancy rate is substantially higher than in other western industrialized nations, and racial/ethnic and geographic disparities in teen birth rates persist.
For more birth data, visit CDPH’s Adolescent Health Data and Statistics webpage by clicking here.
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