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Indeed, it's harder to understand why teen births had been declining for about 15 years before the recent uptick, she said. It may have been due to a concentrated effort to reduce teen births in the 1990s that has waned in recent years, she said.
The statistics are based on a review of most 2007 birth certificates by the National Center for Health Statistics, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The numbers also showed:
-Cesarean section deliveries continue to rise, now accounting for almost a third of all births. Health officials say that rate is much higher than is medically necessary. About 34 percent of births to black women were by C-section, more than any other racial group. But geographically, the percentages were highest in Puerto Rico, at 49 percent, and New Jersey, at 38 percent.
-The pre-term birth rate, for infants delivered at less than 37 weeks of pregnancy, declined slightly. It had been generally increasing since the early 1980s. Experts said they aren't sure why it went down.
-Among the states, Utah continued to have the highest birth rate and Vermont the lowest.
CDC officials noted that despite the record number of births, this increase is different from occurred in the 1950s, when a much smaller population of women were having nearly four children each, on average. That baby boom quickly transformed society, affecting everything from school construction to consumer culture.
Today, U.S. women are averaging 2.1 children each. That's the highest level since the early 1970s, but is a relatively small increase from the rate it had hovered at for more than 10 years and is hardly transforming.
"It's the tiniest of baby booms," said Morgan in agreement. "This is not an earthquake; it's a slight tremor."
On the Net:
The CDC report, including some state-by-state figures: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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