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Teenage birth rates drop dramatically among Hispanic women, girls

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
May 23rd, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The statistics are encouraging - and surprising. Births among young teenage girls and women are down across the board across the United States - 30 percent overall. What's remarkable is that teenage birth rates among young women of Hispanic descent are at an all time low of 34 percent. Analysts are now offering various theories regarding this downturn.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "The thing that surprised me most was the big decline in rates for Hispanics: at least 40 percent in 22 states and the District of Columbia," Brady Hamilton, a report co-author and a statistician at the Center for Disease Control's National Center for Health Statistics. "That was pretty impressive. It really caught my eye."

Are public service messages beginning to reach out to teenagers? "Teen births are the focus of many public policies," he said. "I think this shows the message is getting out."

If so, it's an encouraging sign that much public outreach is finally becoming relevant for its intended audience. Dr. Carlos Lerner agrees that "in settings like ours, we make sure we provide information in a culturally sensitive way in the patient's own language," he explained.

"As we've learned to do that better, I think the message has been becoming more and more effective." Lerner is the medical director of the Children's Health Center at the University of California, Los Angeles.

In addition, there are higher rates of secondary and college education might also play a role in the declining birth rates in Hispanics, "since education tends to be strongly related to postponing childbearing," according to Stefanie Mollborn, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Colorado Boulder.

Based on U.S. Census data, "it does look like both high school and college graduation rates are going up more quickly for Latina women in the 2007-2010 periods than for the general population." Mollborn adds.

The decline could also be related to the growing number of second generation Hispanics in the U.S.

"From a separate analysis based on the American Community Survey (2007-2011), the drop in [births] among Latinos is slightly higher among native-born Latinas compared to foreign-born Latinas," sociologist and demographer Rogelio Senz says.

Senz also suggest that another factor could be the increasing numbers of young Latino women who choose to remain single.

Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that from 2007 to 2011, the overall rate of teen births declined a full 30 percent. Among non-Hispanic black teens there was a decline of 24 percent. Among white, non-Hispanic teens, the rate decreased by 20 percent.

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