The number of U.S. babies born to babies (teen mothers) hit record lows in 2011, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, published in the journal Pediatrics today. 20-somethings followed their lead, although the birth rate increased for ladies in their late 30s and early 40s.
The new data showed an eight-percent drop in teen births between 2010 and 2011; only slightly more than three percent of 15- to 19-year-olds had babies during that period. According to the study's authors, 3.6 million more babies would've been born to teenage girls over the last two decades if the teen birth rate hadn't been dropping since 1991.
CDC statistician Brady Hamilton, lead author of the new report, said the economy was a factor "that goes into people's decisions about having a child." But given that the vast majority of teenagers aren't exactly prudent about money management or family planning, perhaps this has less to do with finances and more to do with a little something that rhymes with smirth smontrol.
"I think the main thing behind this is increased contraceptive use, and better contraceptive use," Dr. Krishna Upadhya, who studies teen pregnancy at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore (but wasn't involved with the study) told Reuters Health. You don't say!
Upadhya also noted that there are still parts of the country where teens have a hard time getting their hands on long-lasting birth control (such as IUDs) and even condoms. That's why it's so important to combat Bible Belt logic/shame with solid statistics — and support from powerful places.
Last week, over 1,000 religious leaders from 35 different religious denominations signed an open letter published by the Religious Institute supporting family planning access for all women. "The commandment to ‘be fruitful and multiply' is not exclusive to procreation, but also calls individuals to co-create a world characterized by justice and inclusion," the letter stated. "Our traditions affirm children as a blessing, not a requirement or an entitlement."
Amen — and children are particularly not a blessing when they're born to those whom are still children themselves.