Teen births have fallen to record lows in the United States, and Kansas has followed the trend, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on Tuesday.
The declining rates were attributed partly to programs aimed at preventing pregnancies among teenagers.
Nearly every state saw a decline in teen births from 2007 to 2010, with the biggest drop, 29 percent, in Arizona. Kansas teen births declined 8 percent during that time, from 4,217 in 2007 to 3,863 in 2010, according to the report.
“We’re very glad to see that,” said Miranda Steele, communications director for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.
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The state continues to see some disparity in teen birth rates by race and ethnicity, however, according to KDHE.
Overall, Kansas ranks 14th among states, according to the CDC report, with a rate of 39.2 births per 1,000 teenagers ages 15 through 19. The national average is 34.
But how the state fares against other states isn’t considered a viable gauge, a KDHE spokesman said. Kansas is concerned with how it does against itself. KDHE offers programs within its Bureau of Family Health that address teen pregnancy.
Case management services target specific areas with high teen pregnancy rates and establish a nurse-client partnership to mentor young women and their partners, according to KDHE. The goal is to keep teens from having additional pregnancies until they reach their educational or financial goals. The state also offers the Kansas Abstinence Education Program.
The U.S. teen birth rate declined 9 percent from 2009 to 2010, reaching 34.3 births per 1,000 women ages 15-19, the CDC reported. From 1991 through 2010, the rate dropped by 44 percent.
Teen child-bearing has been generally on a long-term decline in the United States since the late 1950s, but the nation continues to have one of the highest such rates among industrialized countries. Teen mothers and their offspring have more health risks than older women and their offspring, adding about $10.9 billion to public health costs each year, the agency said.
The highest rate was again recorded in Mississippi at 55 births per 1,000 teenagers. But even there, the rate has fallen by 21 percent over three years, according to the data.
The lowest rate was in New Hampshire, at 15.7 births per 1,000.
Rates stayed about the same in Montana, North Dakota and West Virginia.
In general, rates tended to be highest in the South and Southwest and lowest in the Northeast and Upper Midwest, a pattern that has persisted for many years, the data showed.
Fewer babies were born to teenagers in 2010 than in any year since 1946. If the teen birth rates observed in 1991 had not declined through 2010, there would have been an estimated 3.4 million additional births to teens from 1992 to 2010.
The declines have generally been attributed to the increase in pregnancy prevention messages directed at teenagers. Recently released data from the National Survey of Family Growth, conducted by the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, have shown increased use of contraception at first initiation of sex and use of dual methods of contraception.
Contributing: Los Angeles Times; Fred Mann of The Eagle