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Teen Birth Rates Hit An All-Time Low. Hopefully Shows Like 'Teen Mom' Won't Change That Statistic

Wed, December 22, 2010 1:35pm EDT by 1 Comment

The birth rates of American teens fell to the lowest point in nearly 70 years of record-keeping in 2009. What’s going on? Is it the recession or something to do with Bristol Palin?

According to a report released by the government yesterday (Dec. 21) teenagers aren’t having as many babies as they were in previous years. In fact, the birth rate for teens, ages 15 to 19, fell to 39 births per 1,000 girls, which is a 6 percent decline from last year. It’s also the lowest recorded birth rate since health officials began keeping track in 1940. What’s going on? Some say the economy is causing would-be teen moms to rethink their baby plans but we’re not so sure about that.

“I’m not suggesting that teens are examining futures of 401(k)s or how the market is doing,” Sarah Brown, chief executive of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, tells the Associated Press. “But I think they are living in families that experience that stress. They are living next door to families that lost their jobs. … The recession has touched us all.”

Birth rates are up for women over 40

We’re not so sure that the economy and our current recession is the real reason. It doesn’t seem like something that would cross a teenager’s mind as they’re getting hot and heavy with their lover, does it? And we doubt that Bristol Palin‘s widely publicized teen pregnancy during her mother’s vice presidential run has much to do with it either.

While some suggest that reality shows like Teen Mom and 16 and Pregnant are glamorizing teen motherhood, they could actually be having the opposite affect. I’m a grown adult woman, and after watching one episode of 16 and Pregnant, I found myself reconsidering my baby dreams. Not only did the labor look awful but the reality of sleepless nights and crying babies is less than appealing.

Abortion could also play a factor. Most teens aren’t planning their pregnancies, and if we’re talking the economy’s influence, then it would make sense that young girls realize that they can’t afford to raise a child while still in high school.

MTV announces ’16 and Pregnant’ abortion special

Teen moms account for about 10 percent of the babies born in America. But they’re not the only ones having fewer babies. The total number of births in this country has also been dropping for all women, except those over 40. About 4.1 million babies were born in 2009, which is about 3 percent fewer than in 2008.

Whatever the reason for teen birth rates being down, I can’t help but think that it’s a good thing. I’ve reported on so many disturbing stories involving teenage mothers, like Amber Portwood, that I’m glad to know that more and more teens are putting off becoming parents. What do you think, HollyMoms?

–Amy L. Harper

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