Teen birth rate declines in Virginia

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The teen birth rate has gone down over the past few years, but it's still a big concern in our nation and right here in Virginia.

It's actually at its lowest rate since the 1960s according to a report the Centers for Disease Control released Tuesday.

Researchers in Virginia say one reason is people are taking better preventative measures than they did years ago.

Teen birth rates fell in almost every state in 2010 according to the CDC. Researchers say they fell nine percent from 2009 to 2010, and dropped even more - 44 percent since 1991. The national study is based on teens ages 15 to 19.

Virginia is doing better than many other states when it comes to rates of teen births. Mississippi has the highest rate. Roughly 55 of every 1,000 women who gave birth were teenagers. Virginia ranks much lower on that list - 37 of 50 states. Roughly 27 out of 1,000 births were teen moms. It's a much better number than a couple years ago.

"The trend is continuing to go in a good direction," said Virginia Department of Health Family Health Services Office Director Diane Helentjaris. "We're not totally surprised but we're glad to see these trends go in a positive direction."

Research trends show the teen birth rate continues to be a big concern when it comes to the baby's health and the parents' ability to provide care.

"Teen pregnancy is associated with poorer outcomes for the babies and some difficulties for the parents," Helentjaris added.

The study also shows the birthrate among black women ages 10 to 15 in 2010. It's roughly double that of whites and other races in Virginia, which tends to match the national trend.

"Of course, there is variation in teen pregnancy rates among different ethnic and racial groups so you would have to factor that in when looking at a state's numbers," Helentjaris noted.

Based on educated assumptions, health officials say contraception and waiting to have sex could be some reasons contributing to the decline in Virginia. Health officials say it's good news, but only 50 percent of students nation-wide reported talking to their parents about sex.

Copyright 2012 WWBT NBC12.  All rights reserved.