Massachusetts teen birth rate hits record low

The teen pregnancy rate in Massachusetts is half of what it was in 1989. PHOTO: ourfamilyworld.com
The teen pregnancy rate in Massachusetts is half of what it was in 1989. PHOTO: ourfamilyworld.com

The Department of Public Health today released a report that shows Massachusetts’ teen birth rate has plummeted by more than 50 percent since 1989, reaching the lowest level on record in 2010. The report also shows the lowest rate of smoking for pregnant women on record.

“This report is good news for Massachusetts families,” said Governor Deval Patrick, “The work we do in promoting public health has a real impact on the lives of children and families across the state.”

The study showed new mothers in Massachusetts have grown older since 1980. The percentage of women giving birth who were 30 or older was 25 percent in 1980; it was 54 percent in 2010.

Racial disparities persist, according to the 121-page report. The black infant mortality rate of 8.2 per 1,000 live births was 2.5 times higher than the white rate. The birth rate for Hispanic teens, 49.3 per 1,000 women ages 15 to 19, was 4.7 times that of whites.

Overall, the teen birth rate of 17.1 births per 1,000 was down from the 2009 rate of 19.5, and was the lowest teen birth rate ever recorded, according to the study.

“Credit goes first to the young people of Massachusetts,” says Patricia Quinn, executive director of the Massachusetts Alliance on Teen Pregnancy in a statement. “Youth behavior data shows that rates of sexual activity have not changed significantly, so it appears that much of the decline in teen birth rates can be attributed to youth effectively using contraception.”

The alliance noted that in 1989, the teen birth rate hit a peak of 35.9 per 1,000. New Hampshire was the only state with a lower teen birth rate in 2010 than Massachusetts.

While the highest 2010 teen birth rate in New England is Rhode Island, with a rate of about 22 per 1,000, according to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, other areas of the country currently surpass the Massachusetts peak in 1989. Mississippi has a birth rate of 55 per 1,000 and is neighbors with other states with significantly higher rates than the Northeast.

Suburbs had the lowest rates of births by unmarried mothers, Brookline (6.1 percent), Arlington (7.3 percent) and Newton (8.5 percent) recording the smallest percentages among the 30 largest communities. Springfield (71.4 percent), Lawrence (70.2 percent), New Bedford (64 percent) and Fall River (63.6 percent) were the highest.

The statewide percentage of unmarried mothers (34.6 percent) was lower than the nationwide rate of 40.8 percent.

Teen birth rates were also higher in so-called gateway cities generally outside Boston. The number of births per 1,000 women ages 15 to 19 was highest in Holyoke (83.6) followed by Lawrence (56.9), Springfield (54.3) and Chelsea (51.8).

The youngest mother in the state was 12 years old in 2010, the same as in 2009, the study said.

The report was prepared by James West, Malena Hood, and Dana Bernson, epidemiologists from the Division of Research and Epidemiology, and Kevin Foster, from the Registry of Vital Records and Statistics.

The Massachusetts fertility rate of 53.7 births per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44 years was below the nationwide rate of 64.1 per 1,000.

In 2010, 6.3 percent of births involved mothers who smoked during pregnancy, according to the report.

Melrose-Wakefield Hospital had the highest percentage of caesarean section operations, with 43.1 percent. Brazilian mothers had the highest rate of caesareans (42.9 percent), among the state’s ethnicities, and Cambodian mothers had the lowest rate (19.9 percent).

The report said Asian mothers had the highest average age at birth (29.8 years) while Hispanic mothers had the lowest (23.5 years). Among the 30 largest municipalities, Weymouth had the highest percentage (92.9 percent) of mothers receiving “adequate prenatal care,” while Pittsfield (70.5 percent) had the lowest rate.

Follow Morgan Rousseau on Twitter: @MetroMorgan
Follow Metro Boston on Twitter: @MetroBOS



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Mutant worms stay sober, even on alcohol

U.S. researchers have developed "mutant worms" that do not get drunk by alcohol, a breakthrough that could lead to new treatment for people trying to quit drinking

Local

K-9 nose helps capture $150K in cocaine at…

A furry, four-legged security agent helped authorities stop an illegal cocaine shipment from sneaking past JFK customs.

National

Minnesota man asked to leave Southwest flight after…

A man and his two sons were asked to leave a Southwest Airlines flight after the man sent a tweet complaining about being treated rudely by a gate agent.

National

Man sues hospital after surprise penis amputation

An Alabama man who went in to a hospital last month for a circumcision awoke after surgery to find his penis had been amputated, his lawyer said on Thursday.

Movies

Review: Brett Ratner's big 'Hercules' movie is small…

The latest "Hercules," starring Dwayne Johnson as the half-god beefcake of Greek myth, strips its hero and tale of most of its fantastical elements.

Arts

Scientists recreate world's smallest Monet copy

Scientists have reproduced a famous Impressionist painting using nano-printing, to create what has been described as the world's smallest work of art. Reworked at the…

Television

Jerry Seinfeld is ambidextrous, and other Reddit AMA…

See some of the weirder highlights of Jerry Seinfeld's recent Reddit AMA.

Going Out

Grab a pedestrian and start dancing at What…

As a New Yorker, I’ve mastered the art of focusing my gaze straight ahead. Though it occasionally piques my interest, the absurdities that play out…

U.S. Soccer

Orlando City takes shot at NYCFC over Frank…

Orlando City reminded the world how big a signing Brazilian star Kaka earlier this month with a photo of Kaka mobbed by fans juxtaposed against Lampard.

NBA

Jeremy Lin says 'Linsanity' is over as he…

Jeremy Lin lit up the NBA two years ago with his play for the Knicks but he has no desire to recreate "Linsanity" in his new career with the Lakers.

NFL

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player…

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player rankings

U.S. Soccer

NYCFC announce signing of Frank Lampard

The tease of a big signing Thursday by new MLS side NYCFC ended up being one rumored for weeks. England midfielder Frank Lampard agreed to…

Tech

Forget Wi-Fi: Li-Fi could be the future

Li-Fi technology – developed by Mexican company Sisoft – is wireless internet connectivity using specialized LED light.

Tech

Weather app Climendo might be the most accurate…

The wait for a truly accurate weather forecast could finally be over thanks to a nifty new app called Climendo.

Tech

Napkin Table puts focus off the phone and…

Michael Jan, a design student at Tunghai University in Taiwan, has invented a serviette-picnic blanket hybrid called the Napkin Table.

Style

Essie's new Color Boutique

Essie launches high-tech kiosks at major airports and malls across the country.