December 30, 1997
ILLINOIS TEEN BIRTHS DROP TO
EIGHT-YEAR LOW IN 1996
SPRINGFIELD, IL -- The number of babies born to Illinois teenagers dropped last year to the lowest level in eight years, the Illinois Department of Public Health today reported.
Of the 183,079 births to Illinois women in 1996, 12.7 percent or 23,331 were to girls 19 years of age and younger, down from 12.9 percent in 1995 and the lowest since the 12.5 percent recorded in 1988. About 85 percent of the teenage births were to single moms.
"There is hope teenagers may be changing their attitudes toward early sex and its consequences," said Dr. John R. Lumpkin, state public health director. "But despite the encouraging trend, there are still too many babies born to teenagers. Abstinence remains the best choice and that message needs to be delivered by those of us who have an influence on their lives -- family, preachers, teachers, health care providers and friends."
Federal government studies released this year have found that sexual activity among teens has fallen for the first time in a quarter century. The government's National Survey of Family Growth, which is conducted every five years, found half of the 15- to 19-year-old girls reported having sex at least once, down from 55 percent in 1990. A similar study sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported 55 percent of teen boys said they were sexually active, down from 60 percent in 1988.
The researchers said they were not sure why more teens were postponing sexual activity, but suggested the fear of HIV infection and AIDS, better school sex education and a concern about the consequences of having a child appear to have had an effect.
"We know the many risks of early childbearing," Dr. Lumpkin said. "Teen mothers have difficulty fulfilling their roles as parents and often do not finish high school, which makes it less likely they will find gainful employment as adults. This often leads to limited life options for the mother and child and is associated with social and economic disadvantages."
While the recent slowing in teen births and sexual activity are hope for the future, Dr. Lumpkin said much more needs to be accomplished.
"We know from experience that many teens will not choose to wait to have sex until they are married," Dr. Lumpkin said. "For those who have begun sexual relationships, it is not too late to provide them with decision-making and partner communication skills and with information about contraceptives."
In 1996 in Illinois, there were 9,422 babies born to children 17 years of age and younger, 40 percent of all teen births. Births to 18- and 19-year-olds totaled 13,909. In 1995, there were 9,824 babies born to teens 17 years of age or younger, and 14,222 to 18- and 19-year-olds.
Among racial groups, African-American teenagers accounted for 40 percent of all teen births, or 9,345; 98 percent were unmarried. There were 8,347 births to white teenagers, 76 percent of whom were unmarried, and 5,446 births to teens of Hispanic or Latino ethnicity, 73 percent of whom were unmarried.
The number of births to teen mothers and the percentage of the state's total births for the last 10 years are 1987, 22,393 (12.5%); 1988, 23,169 (12.5%); 1989, 24,923 (13.1%); 1990, 25,545 (13.1%); 1991, 25,291 (13.0%); 1992, 24,601 (12.9%); 1993, 24,395 (12.8%); 1994, 24,668 (13.0%); 1995, 24,046 (12.9%); and 1996, 23,331 (12.7%).
NOTE -- Jump to the list of births to teenage mothers for 1995 and 1996 by age, according to county of residence.
of Public Health
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Springfield, Illinois 62761
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