Congress is back in session. The fact-free political campaign season lies ahead.
What better time to offer a special themed edition of Modern Healthcare's Data Points feature as background for an issue dominating the headlines? In 2013, the nearly 60 million American women between ages 15 and 44 gave birth to 3,932,181 children, a fertility rate of 62.5 births per 1,000 women of childbearing age, according to the most recent National Vital Statistics Report on U.S. childbirths from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That's only slightly below the fertility rate of 67.8 births per 1,000 women in 1974, the year the U.S. Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade. However, it's substantially below the late 1950s peak fertility rate of 118 births per 1,000 U.S. women of childbearing age. In 2013, 1,595,873, or 40.6% of live births occurred among unmarried women, up from 665,747 or 18.4% of all births in 1980. Birth rates for married women have been falling steadily for more than three decades—from 97.0 per 1,000 married women of childbearing age in 1980 to 86.9 per 1,000 such women in 2013. In 2013, a total of 273,105 babies were born to women ages 15 to 19. The live birth rate of 26.5 per 1,000 women in this age group is at an all-time low, down 57% from a peak of 61.8 births per 1,000 teen women in 1991. The decline in teen pregnancies and births has been steepest among African-Americans, although it remains higher than the white rate. African-American teen births fell to 39.0 per 1,000 women in that age group, a decline of 67% from the 118.2 births per 1,000 black teen women in 1991. Hispanics have the highest teen birth rate: 41.7 per 1,000 young women in 2013. But that's still a 60% lower teen birth rate than 1991. The five states with the highest teen pregnancy rates in 2013 were, in ascending order: Arkansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Mississippi and Texas, each with rates at least 60% higher than the national average, according to data from the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.