Percentage of Teenage Births Decline in California, Premature Births Increase, National Study Finds
Access to prenatal care has improved in California, and the percentage of teenagers in the state giving birth declined between 1990 and 1999, according to a new report released Tuesday by Child Trends, an independent research center "dedicated to improving the lives of children and families," and the Kids Count program of the Annie E. Casey Foundation (Annie E. Casey Foundation release, 2/5). The report, "The Right Start for America's Newborns: A Decade of City and State Trends (1990-1999)," rated the country on eight childbirth-related health measures -- teen births, repeat teen births, births to unwed women, births to women with low levels of education, late or no prenatal care, smoking during pregnancy, low-birthweight babies and preterm births -- in all 50 states and the District of Columbia and in the nation's 50 largest cities. The summary of the study's findings for California appears below:
- Teen births: The total percentage of births to California teens dropped from 11.6% of all births in 1990 to 11.1% in 1999.
- Repeat teen births: The number of births to teens who had already given birth dropped from 22.6% of teen births in 1990 to 20.5% in 1999.
- Births to unwed women: Out-of-wedlock births increased slightly from 31.6% in 1990 to 32.9% in 1999.
- Births to women with low education levels: Among women with less than 12 years of formal education, the percentage of births dropped from 34.0% in 1990 to 30.4% in 1999.
- Late or no prenatal care: The percentage of women who received late or no prenatal care declined from 7.0% in 1990 to 3.2% in 1999.
- Low-birthweight births: The percentage of infants born weighing less than 5.5 pounds increased from 5.8% in 1990 to 6.1% in 1999.
- Preterm births: The percentage of infants born before 37 weeks of gestation increased from 9.8% in 1990 to 10.3% in 1999.
- Smoking during pregnancy: Data on smoking rates among pregnant women was not available for California ("The Right Start for America's Newborns: A Decade of City and State Trends (1990-1999)," 2/5).
The study also examined the same measures in large cities. In Fresno, only 2.6% of women received late or no prenatal care in 1999, and low-birthweight infants represented 6.9% of births -- below the 8.8% average for the country's 50 largest cities. However, Fresno's percentage of repeat teenage births remained "relatively high" at 25%, even though the percentage dropped from 32% in 1990. Connie Woodman, Fresno County's manager of the Department of Community Health's Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health Division, attributed improvements in prenatal care to the county's Babies First program, which aims to reduce infant mortality (Coleman, Fresno Bee, 2/6). The survey also found that access to prenatal care improved in Los Angeles and Long Beach. The percentage of women in Los Angeles who had late or no access to prenatal care dropped from 7.4% in 1990 to 2.7% in 1999. In Long Beach, the percentage fell from 8.7% in 1990 to 3.6% in 1999 (Hillburg, Long Beach Press-Telegram, 2/6). To view a full copy of the report, go to http://www.aecf.org/kidscount/rightstart2002/.This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.