American Renaissance

Mass. Teen Birth Rate At All-Time Low

Infant Mortality Rates Also Decline, Jan. 27

BOSTON — The teen birth rate in Massachusetts has reached an all-time low.

The rate of births among girls ages 15 to 19 was 22.6 per 1,000 in 2002, the latest year for which figures were available, according to the state Department of Public Health. That rate is 47 percent below the national average of 42.9 births per 1,000.

The state’s teen birth rate has decreased steadily in the past several years. In 1990, the rate was 35.4 per 1,000.

Infant mortality rates also declined slightly, from 4.9 infant deaths per 1,000 live births in 2002 compared to five deaths per 1,000 a year earlier. The rate has declined 30 percent overall since 1990, and there has been a decrease marked by all races and ethnicities, according to the health department.

Among the 30 largest communities, the areas with the highest infant mortality rates for 2000-2002 were Worcester (8.9), Fall River (8.0), Springfield (7.3) and Taunton (7.3).

There continue to be disparities by race, ethnicity, education and community. The black, non-Hispanic infant mortality rate was about three times the white, non-Hispanic rate — 11.8 per 1,000 live births versus 4.1. And the teen birth rate for Hispanics was about six times that of white non-Hispanics, 76.4 per 1,000 teens, compared to 13.4.

Health Commissioner Christy Ferguson said the state must remain diligent in working to reduce teen pregnancies and the infant mortality rate, and to eliminate disparities, but she said the report was largely positive.

“Overall, this report indicates that Massachusetts has a lot to be proud of concerning the health of its mothers and their babies,” she said.