State’s Teen Birth Rate Drops Below National Average for First Time Since 1980
The state's teenage birth rate last year dropped below the national average for the first time since 1980, according to the Department of Health Services, the AP/Contra Costa Times reports. About 45 per 1,000 California girls ages 15 to 19 gave birth in 2001, compared to the national average of 46 births per 1,000 girls. The 2001 teen birth rate marked the lowest for the state since 1991, when the rate was 73 births per 1,000 girls (Chu, AP/Contra Costa Times, 10/22). The teen birth rate decreased in 32 of the state's 58 counties. Central Valley reported the highest teen birth rate, with about 70 births per 1,000 girls in Fresno, Kings and Yuba counties. Marin County had the lowest rate, with 12 births per 1,000 girls (AP/Fresno Bee, 10/22). California health officials attributed the drop in the teen birth rate to a state-sponsored media campaign that advocates "sexual responsibility" among teenagers. The campaign encourages male involvement in pregnancy prevention and "educates teens about their options" (AP/Contra Costa Times, 10/22). The campaign also encourages adults to "speak frankly" with teens about sex, the Sacramento Bee reports (Brown, Sacramento Bee, 10/22). "We must continue to promote teen pregnancy ... prevention programs and strategies in our communities if we are to continue the downward teen birth rate trend," DHS Director Dr. Diana Bonta said (Office of the Governor release, 10/21). Although the teen birth rate for all ethnic groups in the state decreased in 2001, Latinas still have the highest birth rate -- 82 births per 1,000 girls -- among girls statewide. African-American girls in the state had the next highest teen birth rate in 2001, with about 53 births per 1,000 girls; Pacific Islander girls in the state had the lowest teen birth rate in 2001, fewer than 16 births per 1,000 girls (AP/Contra Costa Times, 10/22).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.