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Miss. has highest rate of births among teens

N.E. states have lowest in country

By Mike Stobbe
Associated Press / January 8, 2009
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ATLANTA - Mississippi now has the nation's highest teen birth rate, displacing Texas and New Mexico for that lamentable title, a new federal report says.

Mississippi's rate was more than 60 percent higher than the national average in 2006, according to new state statistics released yesterday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The teen birth rate for that year in Texas and New Mexico was more than 50 percent higher.

The three states have large proportions of black and Hispanic teenagers - groups that traditionally have higher birth rates, experts noted.

The lowest teen birth rates continue to be in New England, where three states have rates at roughly half the national average, which is 42 births per 1,000 teen women.

It's not clear why Mississippi, with 68 births per 1,000, surged into first place. The New Mexico rate was 64 per 1,000; Texas was 63. New Hampshire, with a rate of 19 per 1,000, was the nation's lowest.

A preliminary report on the 2006 data revealed that the US teen birth rate had risen for the first time in about 15 years. But the new numbers provide the first state-by-state breakdown.

The new report is based on a review of all birth certificates in 2006. Significant increases in teen birth rates were noted in 26 states.

About 435,000 of the nation's 4.3 million births in 2006 were to mothers ages 15 through 19. That was about 21,000 more than in 2005.

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