California’s Adolescent Birth Rate Continues to Decline

SACRAMENTO September 24, 2018 – The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) today announced that California’s adolescent birth rate (ABR) continues to decline. A new state report indicates a record low of 15.7 births per 1,000 females between the ages of 15 and 19. Those numbers reflect an 11 percent decline between 2015 and 2016.

Declining rates can be attributed to a number of factors, including improved access to reproductive health services and increased use of contraception; delayed first sexual intercourse; and public health prevention, education and support programs.

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“While we have more work to do, the decline in adolescent births is a sign that our efforts in California are working,” said Dr. Karen Smith, CDPH Director and State Public Health Officer.

The adolescent birth rate decreased among all racial and ethnic groups between 2015 and 2016. Despite these declining birth rates, racial disparities persist in adolescent childbearing in California. African-American and Hispanic adolescents are three to four times as likely to give birth as White youth. Hispanic females account for 75 percent of adolescent births and have the highest ABR at 23.7. Rates also vary dramatically across counties: the county with the highest ABR has a rate 5.2 times greater than the county with the lowest ABR.

For more birth rate data, visit CDPH’s Adolescent Health Data and Statistics webpage.

BACKGROUND

California law requires state-funded sexual health education to be comprehensive, medically accurate, objective, and age and culturally appropriate. CDPH’s Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health Division (MCAH), in collaboration with local partners, implements programs aimed at preventing adolescent pregnancy and improving pregnancy outcomes among young women. This includes two sexual health education programs, the Information and Education Program (I&E) and the Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP), and the Adolescent Family Life Program for expectant and parenting adolescents. In recognition of the variations in birth rates across the state, MCAH developed the California Adolescent Sexual Health Index to target programs to areas in the state with the greatest need. The CDPH/MCAH Adolescent Sexual Health Education Unit (PREP and I&E) also works closely with the California Department of Education (CDE) to ensure medically accurate, objective, culturally and age appropriate education for youth to comply with the California Health Youth Act. Additionally, the state provides no-cost family planning services to eligible people, including adolescents, through the Family PACT Program.