Teen Birth Rate Drops to Record Low

The teen birth rate has dropped to a record low of 21 births per 1,000 young women, according to a newly released report.

Birth rate decline was particularly steep among Black, non-Hispanic and Asian or Pacific Islander adolescents, ages 15-17, according to the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics, which released on Friday its first in a series of annual reports on the condition of children in America.

The use of condoms among sexually active girls has increased to 56 percent in 2005 compared to 38 percent in 1991. At the same time, fewer students also reported ever having had sexual intercourse with 47 percent of high school students in 2005 saying they had sex compared to 54 percent in 1991. The rate remained the same between 2003 and 2005.

"The implications for the population are quite positive in terms of their health and their well-being," said Edward Sondik, director of the National Center for Health Statistics, according to The Associated Press. "The lower figure on teens having sex means the risk of sexually transmitted diseases is lower."

The report was released just after the House voted to extend the Title V abstinence education program for another three months. Title V, which was set to expire June 30, distributes funds based on a formula favoring states with more low-income children.

Among other positive teen trends, the percentage of high school graduates who had completed an advanced mathematics course almost doubled to 50 percent between 1982 and 2004. And the percentage of graduates who had completed a physics, chemistry, or advanced biology course almost doubled to 68 percent in that same time period.

Other findings showed that 67 percent of children ages 0-17 lived with two married parents, down from 77 percent in 1980; the percentage of 8th-, 10th-, and 12th-grade students reporting illicit drug use in the past 30 days remained stable from 2005 to 2006; the percentage of high school completers who enrolled immediately in a 2- or 4-year college remained stable at 69 percent in 2005; 18 percent of all children ages 0-17 lived in poverty in 2005; and overweight children ages 6-17 increased from 6 percent in 1976-1980 to 11 percent in 1980-1994 and continued to rise to 18 percent in 2003-2004.

In 2006, there were 73.7 million children ages 0-17 in the United States, or 25 percent of the population.