Population boom: teen and unmarried mothers

Population: n. : the whole number of people or inhabitants in a country or region

More babies were born (4.3 million) in the US in 2007 than any other year in our history. Two particular statistics fly in the face of rhetoric from the religious right:

1. The teen birth rate is up again, for a second year in a row. So much for “abstinence only”.

Even at the low point in 2005, the United States had the highest rates of teenage pregnancy, birth and abortion of any industrialized country. Because teenage births carry higher risks of medical problems and poverty for mother and child, state health agencies, schools and private groups have mounted educational campaigns to deter teenage pregnancy.

2. Forty percent (40%!) of last year’s births – to mothers of all ages – were to single women.  Which leads me to believe that heterosexuals don’t much care about the institution of marriage …  and it has nothing to do with gays marrying (or not).

Along with the boom in birth (less contraceptive use?), we’re seeing a decrease in abortions.

What I want to know is how many of these new babies were really wanted by their mothers? And if many were not wanted, what problems with troubled children are we going to see in a few years?

Another worrisome trend is the continuing increase in C-section use:

In yet another record high, the share of deliveries by Caesarean section reached 32 percent in 2007, up 2 percent from 2006. Experts have repeatedly said some C-sections are not medically necessary and impose excess costs, but the rate has steadily climbed, from 21 percent in 1996.

Not only are C-sections expensive and invasive, but the baby’s long-term health may be jeopardized:

Swiss researchers are reporting in the journal Thorax this month that a Caesarean delivery is linked to a much higher risk for asthma compared with babies born vaginally.

In a study of nearly 3,000 children, the researchers found that 12 percent had been given a diagnosis of asthma by age 8. In that group, those born by C-section were nearly 80 percent more likely than the others to develop asthma. The explanation may be that a vaginal birth “primes” a baby’s immune system by exposing it to various bacteria as it moves through the birth canal.

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3 responses to “Population boom: teen and unmarried mothers

  1. My niece and her partner just had a baby. Since their state doesn’t recognize gay marriage, the birth was probably recorded as being to a single woman. I wonder what percentage of that 40% of ‘single’ women might fall in to the same category.

  2. Hmm is there such a thing as “promiscuous only” education? Maybe that would work better…

    40% though, that is huge! Good question about how many are wanted — and I’m wondering how the war plays into this?

  3. Carl – Promiscuous! another fine P-word to explore…

    And Susan, you’re so right about births to lesbian mothers who can’t marry – that would be useful to know.