In October 1996, the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) inaugurated a new statistical series designed to provide more timely release of national and state-level birth statistics(1). These data will provide state and local health officials with a timely first-look at trends in these important measures of their community's health status. NCHS will publish data from the new statistical series on a semi-annual basis. The next report will be issued in early spring of 1997, and will cover the period July 1995-July 1996.
The October release included births for 1995 and U.S. birth rates for teenagers 15-19 years old. The data covered "all races" and white, black, American Indian, Asian or Pacific Islander, and Hispanic subgroups. The October report also provided data on the percent of all births occurring to teenagers in each state, by race and Hispanic origin. Other state-level birth data available from the preliminary report include births to unmarried mothers, low birth weight, prenatal care beginning in the first trimester, and births by cesarean delivery.
After NCHS completes final processing of birth data for a given year, additional, more-detailed statistical tabulations can be produced. In December 1996, NCHS published a report of state-level birth rates for teenagers which is included in this appendix (2). The report includes data for teenage subgroups 15-19, 15-17, and 18-19 years, and by race and Hispanic origin of the mother. The report describes the recent declines in U.S. birth rates for teenagers and the extent to which rates in individual states have also declined. The December report focuses on the period 1990-94. NCHS expects to update this report with rates for 1995 in late spring of 1997.
Reports showing state-level data in conjunction with national statistics can be very useful for state and local public health and other officials as they monitor trends in their states and compare them with trends in neighboring states. In addition, the rates in NCHS' teen birth rate report can help to assess the extent to which programs to reduce teenage pregnancy are succeeding. To assist in the comparison of state-level data, the December report includes maps of teen birth rates, showing the various levels of the rates as well as the 1991-94 trend in the rates.
The authors also note that some of the differences in overall rates by state reflect differences in the composition of the teenage populations by race and Hispanic origin, since birth rates for Hispanic and black teenagers are more than double the rates for non-Hispanic white teenagers. To examine state variations while controlling for population differences in race and ethnicity, the report includes standardized birth rates for each state. The standardized rates for many states with high Hispanic or black populations are lower than the actual rates.
Note on Teen Pregnancy Data:
HHS has published national estimates of teenage pregnancy for the years 1976-92. National data on teen pregnancy are updated on a regular basis as soon as the required data on births and estimates for abortions and fetal losses can be assembled for a given year. National rates for 1993 and 1994 are expected to be available in 1997. State-level teen pregnancy statistics have been published for 1980 and 1990-92. Updates of state rates for 1993 and 1994 are anticipated for 1997.
(1) Rosenberg HM, Ventura SJ, Maurer JD, Heuser RL, Freedman MA. Births and Deaths: United States, 1995. Monthly Vital Statistics Report, Vol. 45, No. 3, Supplement 2. Hyattsville, Maryland: National Center for Health Statistics. 1996.
(2) Ventura SJ, Clarke SC, Mathews TJ. Recent Declines in Teenage Birth Rates in the United States: Variations by State, 1990-94. Monthly Vital Statistics Report, Vol. 45, No. 5, Supplement. Hyattsville, Maryland: National Center for Health Statistics. 1996. NOTE: This file is available only in the Adobe Acrobat ® PDF (Portable Document Format). It can be viewed by using Acrobat Reader. If you do not have this program, you can download a copy with installation instructions here.