Teenage births fell among both younger teens, ages 15 to 17, and older teens, aged 18 to 19, the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported Thursday.
With exceptions in 2006 and 2007, the teen birth rate has now declined every year since 1991, according to the CDC.
That’s welcome news, given that young moms face higher odds of birth complications, including preterm birth. According to the World Health Organization, adolescent mothers 10 to 19 years old are also more likely to have obstetric complications than women aged 20 to 24.
Hurdles to safer pregnancies and births remain, however.
“The data released today by the CDC showed some slight improvements across the board, which is promising, but there is still much more work to be done,” said Dr. Elizabeth Cherot, senior vice president and chief medical and health officer at March of Dimes.
Cherot noted that improvements may not apply to all Americans equally.
“We know from our own research that issues like chronic health conditions, structural racism and barriers to adequate prenatal and obstetric care continue to contribute to unfavorable outcomes [including pre-term birth], and that ‘maternity care deserts’ are on the rise,” she said.
Especially, “Black and American Indian/Alaska Native [Americans] have higher rates of pre-term birth, and overall C-section rates continue to rise,” Cherot noted. “These factors can have serious implications on the health outcomes of mothers and babies.”
More than 99% of birth certificates issued during the year were analyzed for the new report.
The overall birth rate declined 1% from 2021, which is considered a nonsignificant falloff. A total of more than 3.6 million births were recorded in 2022.
The general fertility rate was 56.1 births per 1,000 women ages 15-44, the report notes. Births and general fertility rate had previously increased 1% from 2020 to 2021.
Among the other findings:
The 2022 birth rates declined for women ages 20-24 and 30-34, while increasing for women ages 25-29 and 35-49 years. They were unchanged for adolescents ages 10-14.
The birth rate for 20- to 24-year-olds also reached a record low, while the birth rate for women ages 40-44 continued to trend upward, as it has since 1985.
The cesarean delivery rate grew for the third straight year, reaching 32% in 2022. The low-risk cesarean delivery remained at just over 26%.
While a C-section can be lifesaving, it can also put women and babies at unnecessary risk of short- and long-term health problems if performed when there is no medical need, the WHO says.
Preterm births also declined in 2022, dropping to just over 10%, a 1% decline, after a 4% increase the previous year.
The Pew Research Center has more on the teen birth rate.
SOURCE: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, news release, June 1, 2023; Dr. Elizabeth Cherot, Senior Vice President and Chief Medical and Health Officer at March of Dimes
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