Birth rates by teenage and young adult mothers in the US fell to historic lows last year, while birth rates among women over 40 hit a 30-year high, according to data.

The birth rate among teens age 15-19 dropped nine per cent in 2010 compared to a year earlier, the largest single year dip since 1946-47, the US Department of Health and Human Services said in its National Vital Statistics Report.

At 34.3 births per 1,000 among teens, that marks “a record low for the nation”, said the report.

Teenage birth rates have been falling steadily since 1991, and are now 44 per cent lower than they were 20 years ago.

Tough economic times, combined with some popular reality television shows that have spotlighted the lives of teenage mothers, have also helped bring down the birth rates.

“But at the end of the day, the thanks and admiration go to teens themselves,” said Sarah Brown, chief executive officer of The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.

Women 20- to 24-years-old also saw a drop of six percent in birth rate compared to 2009, with 2010’s rate of 90 per births per 1,000 making it the “lowest level ever reported for the US”.

Meanwhile, the rate of births among women age 40-44 rose two per cent from 2009 to 2010, reaching 10.2 births per 1,000 women, the highest since 1967.

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