Teen births are at the lowest ever reported in the USA and both the number of births and birth rate dropped 10% in just one year, according to the latest preliminary federal data.
The number of births to teens ages 15-19 in 2013 was 274,641, which the National Center for Health Statistics says is the lowest since it started tracking such data from all states in 1933. That number is far fewer than in 1970, which was the all-time peak year with 644,708 teen births.
The 10% drop in the teen birth rate – to 26.6 births per 1,000 from 29.4 births per 1,000 in 2012 -- marked another historic low.
"A drop of 10% in a single year is quite dramatic," says senior demographer Carl Haub of the nonprofit Population Reference Bureau.
Bill Albert, chief program officer at the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, says the reduction in teen births "has gone from extraordinary to almost unbelievable."
"The historic decline has been driven by the magic formula of less sex and more contraception," said Albert.
Despite the drastic drops in U.S. teen birth rates, Haub notes that the new low of 26.6 is 5.5 times higher than in Western Europe, where rates are in single digits. The most recent United Nations data shows Switzerland at a low of 1.9 and Luxembourg at a high of 8.3, with most others in the area at 5 or 6 per 1,000 teens.