Nearly All US States See Hefty Drop in Teen Births

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The teen drop in the last five years coincided with an overall decline in births, which experts attribute to a weak economy that dampened enthusiasm for having children.

Hispanic women have been part of that trend, possibly due to the economy and to illegal immigration crackdowns in some states that reduce the number of young Hispanic females entering the country from Mexico and other nations, said John Santelli, a Columbia University professor of population and family health.

That means new immigrants are having less impact on birth statistics, and second- and third-generation families are having more influence.

As time goes on, Hispanics — like other immigrant groups before them — tend to adopt American customs and practices.

“There is more attention on education, career, and the future,” said Dr. Janet Realini, head of Healthy Futures of Texas, a San Antonio-based organization focused on preventing teen and unplanned pregnancies.

Hispanic rates, though, continue to be much higher than those for blacks and whites in most of the states with the largest Hispanic populations, including California, Texas, New York, New Jersey, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Georgia.

Texas has the highest number of teen births in the nation, with nearly 43,000 in 2011. Nearly two-thirds were to Hispanic moms.

The overall improvement, though, is something to celebrate, said Bill Albert, chief program officer of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.

“Geography, politics, or policy alone simply cannot explain the widespread declines,” Albert said in an email. “Credit goes to teens themselves who are clearly making better decisions about sex, contraception, and their future.”

(Photo: AP)

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