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Teen Pregnancy Rates, Drinking Decline

NEW YORK (MainStreet) – The kids are alright, at least when it comes to not getting pregnant.

The latest National Institutes of Health “America’s Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being” report, which aggregates a number of indicators on the well-being of the nation’s youth and adolescents, found an adolescent birth rate of 20.1 births per 1,000 adolescents aged 15 to 17 in 2009. That’s the second straight year that the teen birth rate has declined, and more importantly, it’s the lowest rate seen among that group since the report started tracking the statistic in 1980. The teen birth rate has dropped fairly steadily since peaking at 38.6 per 1,000 adolescents in 1991, though it has leveled off in recent years.

Other news on the baby front was similarly encouraging, with the rate of premature births and infant deaths both declining slightly from 2008 and 2009.

Just because teenagers aren’t having babies doesn’t mean they’re not getting into trouble, though. While fewer teens are binge drinking—the percentage of twelfth graders who binge drank fell from 25% to 23% between 2009 and 2010—10% of eighth graders admitted to doing illicit drugs (which includes everything from marijuana to heroin) in the past thirty days when asked in 2010, up from 8% in 2009. 

Finally, the report contains some interesting tidbits about adoption in the U.S. The report found that 2.5% of American children are adopted, and 21.5% of those adopted children are of a different race than their adoptive parents. The rate of these interracial adoptions varied widely from state to state. In Alaska a whopping 43% of adopted kids live with parents of a different race, while in West Virginia just 8% of adoptions were interracial.

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