The teen birth rate in 2018 was less than half of what it was 10 years ago across the nation, according to figures just released from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Center for Health Statistics.

There were 179,871 births to mothers ages 15 to 19 in 2018 or 17 births per 1,000 teens. In 2009, the figure was 38 per 1,000.

In 2018, there were 2,814 babies born to teen mothers in New Jersey, or 10 births per 1,000. In 2009, however, the teen birth rate was much higher at 6,408 births or 22 births per 1,000 in New Jersey, still lower than the national average in both years.

Teen births are a key indicator of child wellbeing and tracked in the Kids Count Index each year, said Alana Vega, Kids Count coordinator at Advocates for Children of New Jersey.

Vega said the CDC points to evidence that seems to suggest more teens are either abstaining from sexual activity and those who are engaging in sexual activity are more likely to use birth control.

Vega said a deeper dive into the data shows there are some disparities when it comes to racial data. Although teen birth rates have been declining for certain racial groups, the teen birth rates are higher for those who are black and Hispanic. There are some geographic disparities, with higher teen birthrates in South Jersey.

In Cumberland County, more than 8% of births in 2017 were to teen mothers. Passaic County in North Jersey had 5% but Camden and Salem in the south had more than 4% of its births to teens, the data shows.

Teens are at a higher risk of delivering low-weight and pre-term babies. Vega said the statistics also show these babies are more likely to be born into families with less educational opportunity and economic resources.

More information on this data can be found by visiting the Annie E. Casey Foundation's Kids Count Data Center at www.datacenter.kidscount.org.

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