U.S. births to youngest teens reaches lowest level since 1946

Monday, November 15th 2004, 1:43 pm
By: News On 6

ATLANTA (AP) _ The birth rate among American girls ages 10 to 14 has fallen to its lowest level since 1946, the government reported Monday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the number of births among girls in this age group dropped 38 percent from 1994 to 2002 alone, even though the number of girls 10 to 14 climbed 16 percent during the same period.

CDC researchers attributed the decline to sex education.

``The message is getting across to them. Teens are behaving more responsibly when it comes to sex,'' said Fay Menacker, at the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics.

The birth rate among girls this young has been declining since 1994, when 12,901 babies were born to mothers ages 10 to 14.

In 2002, the most recent year with complete data, there were 7,315 babies born to this age group, a birth rate of 0.7 live births per 1,000 females _ about the same rate nearly 60 years ago.

The birth rate dropped among all racial groups, but it was still higher for black and Hispanic girls than for white and Asian ones. In 2002, the birth rate for black girls was 1.9 live birth per 1,000 girls, and for non-Hispanic white girls it was 0.2 live births per 1,000 girls.

Mothers in the 10-to--14 age group have infant mortality rates more than twice those of mothers ages 22 to 40.

``These births are a tragic situation for the babies and the mothers and their families,'' Menacker said. ``One birth in this age group is too many.''