BOSTON (STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE) – Massachusetts mothers gave birth to 71,484 children in 2015, and while the teen birth rate and other public health indicators are trending positively the Department of Public Health warned in a report released last week that racial disparities remain.
The 71,484 births represented a 0.5% decline from 2014 and a 22.7% decline in the number of births since 1990, according to the DPH report. Massachusetts mothers also continue to get older – the number of births to women under the age of 30 declined by 3.2% while the number of births to women 30 or older increased 1.4%, the report said.
For the fifth year in a row the teen birth rate in Massachusetts declined to its lowest recorded level — 9.4 births per every 1,000 women ages 15 through 19, according to DPH. In 2011 the teen birth rate was 15.4, and the 2015 data represents a 39% decline in teen births between 2011 and 2015.
“While this is a significant decrease in a five year time period, disparities remain, with Hispanic teen birth rate more than seven times that of white non-Hispanic teens,” DPH wrote in the report.
According to DPH, white non-Hispanic mothers gave birth to 718 babies in 2015, for a birth rate of 4.5 births per 1,000 women ages 15 through 19. Black non-Hispanic mothers gave birth to 286 children in 2015, for a teen birth rate of 14.4 births per 1,000 women ages 15 through 19. And Hispanic women ages 15 through 19 gave birth to 1,044 children in 2015, for a teen birth rate of 32.7 births per 1,000 women.
A racial disparity also exists with the adequacy of prenatal care. DPH’s report found the percentage of black non-Hispanic mothers who had adequate prenatal care decreased in 2015 to 69.3%, the lowest level in 20 years.
The percentage of white non-Hispanic women who received adequate prenatal care was 85.1%, 82.8% for Asian mothers, and 77.6% for Hispanic women, according to DPH.
The percentage of women who self-reported that they smoked during their pregnancy declined in 2015, from 6.4% of women in 2014 to 5.5% in 2015, and DPH noted that smoking during pregnancy was “disproportionately higher” among white non-Hispanic mothers.
Though Massachusetts mothers gave birth to 71,484 babies in 2015, a total of 71,988 babies were born into the Bay State, DPH said. Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston delivered the most babies, 6,428, and 438 babies were born either at home, on the way to a hospital or in a doctor’s office.