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Teen Birth Rates on the Rise After Years of Decline

Majority of States in the US See Increase in Teen Births in 2006

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Teen birth rates are on the rise after years of decline. In 2006 the overall teen birth rate in the United States increased for the first time in 15 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention which released its initial findings in December 2007.

On January 7, 2009, the CDC followed up with additional information in the report "Births: Final Data for 2006," which reveals that the teen birth rate increased in over half of all 50 states. The report also breaks down where those births occurred based on the total number of birth certificates issued that year:

The data show teen birth rates were highest in the South and Southwest, with the highest rate recorded in Mississippi (68.4), followed by New Mexico (64.1) and Texas (63.1).

Teen birth rates in 2006 were lowest in the Northeast in 2006, with the lowest rates occurring in New Hampshire (18.7), Vermont (20.8), and Massachusetts (21.3). The only states with a decrease in teen birth rates between 2005 and 2006 were North Dakota, Rhode Island, and New York.

The increase from 40.5 birth per 1,000 women age 15-19 to 41.9 in 2006 reflects a trend apparent in news headlines, TV and film, and pop culture: the normalization of teen pregnancy and teen motherhood.

From Bristol Palin, the 17-year-old daughter of vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, to Nickelodeon star Jamie Lynn Spears, teen celebrities who announce their pregnancies gain media attention and fan support for what was once considered an unfortunate situation.

The teen pregnancy epidemic at Gloucester High School in Massachusetts, the success of the Academy Award-winning teen pregnancy film Juno and the popularity of the ABC Family network show The Secret Life of the American Teenager featuring a pregnant 15-year-old sophomore, all highlight a shift in thinking that the CDC findings support: The perceived drama, glamour and romance of teen pregnancy is changing the way high school students view pregnancy and motherhood.

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