Health

Nation's teen birth rates plummet, but what about South LA?

April 10, 2012, 1:49 p.m.

Laura Lindberg of the Guttmacher Institute said that rolling back access to birth control could reverse the current downward trend of teen births in the country. (Credit: Anna/Flickr Creative Commons)


Teen moms aren't as common as they used to be – despite the fact that they have their own TV show now.

A report from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), which is an arm of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, revealed that the U.S. teen birth rate fell by nine percent between 2009 and 2010, marking a historic low of about 34 births per 1,000 women aged 15 to 19.

That's a 44 percent drop from 1991 to 2010.

In California, KPCC reports that the state's overall teen birth rates are down nearly 60 percent since it started keeping track in 1991 – and they're still falling.

The NCHS found that birth rates fell from 2009 to 2010 for teenagers in age groups 10 to 14; 15 to 17 and 18 to 19.

The shift is huge: The agency also reported that fewer babies were born to teenagers in 2010 than in any year since the mid-1940s.

According to U.S. News and World Report, the trend may be attributable to teenagers "doubling up" on birth control when they have sex – using both a condom and the Pill, for example.

Laura Lindberg of the Guttmacher Institute, which studies reproductive health, said that any attempt to roll back access to contraception could have adverse effects on this trend.

"If we're going to stand up and applaud these declines in the teen birth rate as a positive social outcome, we need to provide teenagers and young adults with contraceptives," she said to U.S. News and World Report.

In Los Angeles, the teen birth rate is considerably worse than the nation's average: 40 births to teenagers aged 15-19 for every 1,000 females, as opposed to the national benchmark of 22.

South L.A. especially may be having a hard time keeping up with the nation's downward trend. There were 20,743 births in the southside's county planning area in 2009, according to data from the Department of Public Health, and a disparate proportion of them were to mothers less than 18 years of age.

According to another report, several zip codes in South L.A. saw anywhere between 71 and 165 mothers younger than 18 giving birth in 2009, including 90037, 90011, 90003 and 90044.

That same report also said that in zip codes 90037 and 90011, between 5.47 and 9.73 percent of live births were to teen mothers.

Photo by Anna via Flickr Creative Commons.

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