The U.S. birth rate for teenagers in 2009 was the lowest it has ever been in the nearly 70 years for which national data are available. The rate was 39.1 births per 1,000 females aged 15-19 years, 37 percent below the 1991 rate, the most recent peak.
Teenage childbearing has been the subject of long-standing concern among the public and policy makers. Teenagers who give birth are much more likely to deliver a low birthweight or preterm infant than older women, and their babies are at elevated risk of dying in infancy. The annual public costs associated with teen childbearing have been estimated at $9.1 billion.
The U.S. teen birth rate fell by more than one-third from 1991 through 2005, but then increased by 5 percent over two consecutive years. Data for 2008 and 2009, however, indicate that the long-term downward trend has resumed. Although the recent declines have been widespread by age, race and ethnicity, and state, large disparities nevertheless persist in these characteristics.
Birth rates for white and black non-Hispanic teenagers and Asian or Pacific Islander (API) teenagers aged 15-17 dropped 53 percent to 63 percent from 1991 through 2009. Although the birth rate for Hispanic teenagers declined more slowly overall from 1991 through 2009, the decline in the rate from 2008 to 2009 (41.0 per 1,000) was the largest of all race and ethnicity groups (by 11 percent). Further, the rate for Hispanic teenagers in 2009 was the lowest ever recorded in the 2 decades for which rates are available for this group.