One in five babies born to a teenage mother is a repeat birth—meaning it is at least the second baby born to that mother—according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
More than 365,000 teens between the ages of 15 and 19 gave birth in 2010. Almost 67,000, or 18.3 percent, of those births were at least the second for those teens.
The CDC warns that almost any pregnancy during the teen years brings substantial social and economic costs through immediate and long-term impacts on teen parents and their children. Infants born as a result of a repeat pregnancy are also more likely to be born too soon (premature) and born too small (at low birth weight).
Teen birth rates have fallen over the past 20 years to a record low, down to 330,000 in 2011. And repeat teen births in the United States decreased by more than six percent between 2007 and 2010.
A full 91 percent of these teens are using some form of birth control, says Dr. Wanda Barfield, MD., director of reproductive health at the CDC.
"The news is good in that these teens were trying to use contraception to avoid a repeat pregnancy and birth. However only 22 percent of them were using the most effective contraceptive," Barfield tells Parenting.com.
Both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists recommend long-active reversible contraception such as intrauterine devices (IUD) as the most effective form birth control.
The new CDC data show that there are significant racial and geographic disparities in repeat teen births. The rates of repeat births were highest among American Indian/Alaska Native teens (21.6 percent), Hispanics (20.9 percent), and non-Hispanic blacks (20.4 percent), and lowest among non-Hispanic whites (14.8 percent).
Repeat teen births ranged from 22 percent in Texas to 10 percent in New Hampshire. Colorado has the highest rate of teen mothers using the more effective contraception (50 percent).
Barfield tells Parenting.com that the report suggests the importance of more education efforts and improving access to effective contraception for teens and creating scenarios for more affordable birth control.
"Teen pregnancy prevention is something that requires something from everyone, particularly parents' of the teens," she says. "It is important parents be educated as well."
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