Epidemiologic Surveillance of Teenage Birth Rates in the United States, 2006–2012

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Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To investigate the geographic variation in the average teenage birth rates by county in the contiguous United States.

METHODS:

Data from the National Center for Health Statistics were used in this retrospective cohort to count the total number of live births to females aged 15–19 years by county between 2006 and 2012. Software for disease surveillance and spatial cluster analysis was used to identify clusters of high or low teenage births in counties or areas of greater than 100,000 teenage females. The analysis was then adjusted for percentage of poverty and high school diploma achievement.

RESULTS:

The unadjusted analysis identified the top 10 clusters of teenage births. The cluster with the highest rate was a city and the surrounding 40 counties, demonstrating an average teen birth rate of 67 per 1,000 females in the age range, 87% higher than the rate in the contiguous United States. Adjustments for poverty rates and high school diploma achievement shifted the top clusters to other areas.

CONCLUSION:

Despite an overall national decline in the teenage birth rate, clusters of elevated teenage birth rates remain. These clusters are not random and remain higher than expected when adjusted for poverty and education. This data set provides a framework to focus targeted interventions to reduce teenage birth rates in this high-risk population.

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