Teen pregnancy way down, but not for everyone

American teens aren't making babies like they used to. In fact, the birth rate among teens 15 to 19 years of age fell to a record low in 2009, according to new data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of course, teens are a lot more likely to become moms in some states than in others. Which state has the highest teen birth rate? Keep clicking find out - and see 14 states that weren't far behind... iStockphoto

Teen pregnancy is way down, but there are still 400,000 births to teen moms in America each year.
Teen pregnancy is way down, but there are still 400,000 births to teen moms in America each year.
istockphoto

(CBS) Teen pregnancy is down, way down in America, but teens in this country are still getting pregnant at rates that dwarf the rest of the developed world.

That's according to a new Centers for Disease Control report, which found teen birth rates dropped 37 percent over the last two decades and are now at a record low. But the agency says it's still not nearly good enough. Teen birth rates in America are up to nine times higher than many other developed countries. We find ourselves nestled between Bulgaria and Romania on the issue.

What's the big deal? Education for one. Only 50 percent of teen moms get a high school diploma by the age of 22, according to the CDC. That's compared with 90 percent of teen girls that don't give birth. Money is also a factor. The agency estimates that teen births cost taxpayers $9 billion each year.

There were around 400,000 teen births in 2009, the last year for which the agency has released data. Hispanic and black teens were two to three times as likely to be teen moms as whites. Geography also played a role. 

Northeastern states had the lowest teen pregnancy rates, while some southern states still struggle. See our slide show for the rundown on which states have the highest rates of teen moms.

For parents worried about the issue, the CDC has a few tips.

- Talk to your teens about delaying sex, avoiding pregnancy, birth control, having respectful relationships, and being aware of dating violence.

- Get to know the parents of your teen's friends and be involved with what's going on in their lives.

- Talk to community leaders about the need for effective programs that prevent teen pregnancy and address overall sexual and reproductive health.

More at the CDC's teen pregnancy site.

  • Neil Katz

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