"The steady reduction in the number of Illinois teens giving
birth is evidence that prevention efforts are working," Gov.
Blagojevich said. "Studies tell us that teenage mothers and their
babies face significant challenges: from greater health risks during
pregnancy and delivery to increased financial and social pressures.
That's why it's so critical that the state and our partners continue
to reach out to teenagers about the importance of thinking about
consequences and making good decisions when it comes to sex."
Over the past 10 years, from 1994 to 2003, teen births fell 28
percent. Of the 182,393 births to Illinois women in 2003:
- 9.7 percent, or 17,670, of births were to girls 19 years of
age or younger. This is down from 10.3 percent, or 18,546, in
2002. These figures are the state's lowest recorded figures since
at least 1959.
- The greatest progress recorded in 2003 was among the state's
youngest teens. Births to girls ages 10 to 14 fell by 57 percent
- The number of babies born to girls ages 15 to 17 fell by 38
percent since 1994.
- The percentage of births to girls ages 18 and 19 dropped 21
percent since 1994.
- The reduction in teen births by race in the past decade was
greatest among African-Americans, with a 40 percent decline, from
10,599 to 6,398.
- Among whites, teen births fell 36 percent, from 8,801 to
5,674, since 1994. Whites accounted for 32 percent, or 5,674, of
teen births in 2003 -- compared with 33 percent, or 6,106, in
- Births to Hispanic teens accounted for 31 percent, or 5,437,
of total teen births, down slightly from 5,589 reported in 2002.
Overall, Hispanic teen births rose 7 percent in the past 10 years,
from 5,085 in 1994 to 5,437 in 2003.
This increase coincides with a growing Hispanic population in
Illinois. According to the U.S. Census, in 1990, Hispanics
represented 7.9 percent of the state's total population, or
904,446 people. In 2000, the state's total Hispanic population
grew to 12.3 percent, or 1.5 million people.
- African-Americans accounted for 36 percent, or 6,398, of all
teen births during 2003, as was the case in 2002. As stated, teen
births to African-Americans declined by 40 percent since 1994.
"The lower teen birth rate means more young women will have the
opportunity to better plan and manage their futures," said Tracie
Worthy, supervisor of teen pregnancy prevention and abstinence
education programs at the Lawndale Christian Health Center. "Teen
pregnancy prevention allows young women to participate in activities
that they are unable to if they are caring for a child."
Dr. Eric E. Whitaker, state public health director, said teen
moms and their babies face more health risks because they are less
likely to receive regular prenatal care, more likely to smoke when
pregnant and more likely to have a low-birth-weight infant, all of
which are factors in infant deaths and poor health outcomes.
[to top of second column in this article]
"We are particularly pleased to see the reduction in pregnancies
amongst girls in the younger, more vulnerable age groups," Whitaker
said. "Having sexual intercourse at such a young age places teens at
risk of unintended pregnancy, HIV infection and other sexually
transmitted diseases. In addition, having a child presents
emotional, psychological and financial challenges that most teens
are not prepared to deal with."
The reduction in teen births also
can be linked to the work done in local communities across the
state, according to Carol L. Adams, Ph.D., secretary of the Illinois
Department of Human Services.
"Teen pregnancy prevention involves a combination of culturally
sensitive strategies, including programming by local agencies and
the involvement of parents," Adams said. "I feel this approach has
proven to be successful. However, teen pregnancy clearly remains a
serious problem, with long-lasting economic, social and personal
costs for teens, their children and society, and we are committed to
continuing our efforts."
The Illinois Department of Human Services funds several programs
that help prevent teen pregnancy. Teen Pregnancy Prevention works
with communities, schools and parents to provide education and
prevention services. Teen Parent Services counsels low-income
parents on how to avoid subsequent births. The Family Planning
Program promotes the well-being of families, responsible behavior
and healthy babies. Family Planning also prevents unintended
pregnancies through sex education and contraceptive services. The
Abstinence Education program teaches young people how to abstain
from sex until marriage. The Teen REACH after-school program
provides alternative activities for young people.
Nationally, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
reported in a 2001 study that teenagers are having less sex and
using contraceptives more effectively when they do have sex. The
percentage of high school students who have ever had sexual
intercourse dropped among girls from 51 percent in 1991 to 43
percent in 2001. For boys it fell from 57 percent to 48 percent in
the same period.
The number of teen births and
percentage of the state's total births for the past 10 years are as
- 1994 -- 24,668, 13.0 percent
- 1995 -- 24.046, 12.9 percent
- 1996 -- 23,331, 12.7 percent
- 1997 -- 22,646, 12.5 percent
- 1998 -- 22,632, 12.4 percent
- 1999 -- 21,833, 12.0 percent
- 2000 -- 21,108, 11.4 percent
- 2001 -- 20,092, 10.9 percent
- 2002 -- 18,546, 10.3 percent
- 2003 -- 17,670, 9.7 percent
- Comparison of teen birth statistics
for Logan County, all of Illinois, and the counties with the
highest and lowest percentages
County-by-county chart of Illinois teen births
[News release from the governor's office]