The birth rate among teenagers in Iowa, and across the nation, continues to fall. A report released today from the Centers for Disease Control shows Iowa’s 2010 teen birth rate was 28.6 births per 1,000 girls age 15-to-19.

That’s down 13% from 2007. Michael Crawford, with the Child and Family Policy Center in Des Moines, says the trend is not a surprise.

“Unlike 40 to 50 years ago, very few teens are getting married,” Crawford says.

“Years ago, before people went to college regularly, a lot of people would get married out of high school and by the time they were 19 or so they would have a child. That’s not taking place as much anymore.” Iowa’s teen birth rate is 34th in the nation.

Crawford says it’s important to keep the downward trend going and show teens it’s “to their benefit” to delay child bearing until later in life. “Often times, kids see no hope in the future and that’s when they decide having a child is their best bet even though obviously it’s not,” Crawford says. “It’s important for us to focus on showing them that they do have a future and delaying child birth.”

Nationally, teen births are at their lowest since 1940, at 34 births per 1,000 girls. Mississippi recorded the highest teen birth rate at 55 per 1,000, but that still marked a 21% decline from 2007.

 Authors of the CDC report credit pregnancy prevention efforts for the decrease in teen pregnancies and noted a recent government survey found more teens are using contraceptives.