This is one contest where coming in last is best.
In an annual state-by-state ranking of births to teenage mothers, Maine has tied New York for the 43rd-lowest rate in the nation, according to a report released this week by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
At 24.4 births for every 1,000 females from 15 to 19 years old, Maine maintains its longtime status of having one of the lowest teen birth rates in the nation according to data from 2009, the most recent available.
The CDC says babies born to teenage mothers are more likely to be born premature and underweight than babies born to older women. They are more likely to suffer from serious medical complications and to die before their first birthday. The cost associated with births to teenage girls tops $9 billion each year.
Nationwide, the birth rate for teenagers in the U.S. fell in 2009 to the lowest level ever reported — 39.1 births for every 1,000 females ages 15 to 19.
The CDC report notes that declining rates released in this week’s report continue a 40-year national trend. The historic high of 96.3 births per 1,000 teenage girls was reported in 1957. In 1991, the most recent peak, the national rate was 61.8. The rate fell by more than one third between 1991 and 2005, but then rose by 5 percent nationwide in 2006 and 2007. Data for 2008 and 2009 used for the new report indicate the long-term downward national trend has resumed.
Rates are lowest in white teenagers and higher in black and Hispanic teens.
The state with the lowest 2009 teen birth rate is New Hampshire, with 16.4 teen births per 1,000. New Hampshire is immediately followed by Vermont, Massachusetts and Connecticut. The state with the highest rate is Mississippi, with 64.2 births per 1,000 teenage girls.
The CDC report may be found online at

Meg Haskell is a curious second-career journalist with two grown sons, a background in health care and a penchant for new experiences. She lives in Stockton Springs. Email her at