OGDEN -- Birth rates among local teen mothers seem to be decreasing, following a national trend.
The national birth rate fell to 39 births per 1,000 girls ages 15 through 19, according to a government report released Tuesday.
It was a 6 percent decline from the previous year and the lowest since health officials started tracking the rate in 1940.
Still, teenage moms account for about 10 percent of the nation's births.
Experts largely attribute the downturn in overall births to the poor economy.
"We have noticed a decrease in birth rates altogether," said Lisa Nichols, director of Midtown Community Health Center.
"In general, the theory is that, in hard economic times, people don't tend to get pregnant. Of course, teens don't consciously get pregnant."
In 2009, Nichols said, her clinic cared for 1,015 pregnant women, 137 of whom she described as adolescents.
"That's 13 percent," she said.
In 2008, her clinic saw 1,157 pregnant women, and of those, 175 -- 15 percent -- were teens.
While 2 percentage points doesn't sound like much of a change, Nichols did the math and realized that the clinic saw 38 fewer teen mothers over the course of a year.
"Thirty-eight teenage girls who didn't get pregnant, that's a good thing," she said.
The state experienced the same trend last year, according to vital statistics from the Utah State Health Department, available at health.utah.gov/vitalrecords.
In 2008, the department reported 3,734 births to mothers under age 20. In 2009, it reported 3,313 births to women and girls in this category.
The 421 fewer births to teenage mothers represents a decrease of 11 percent.
Experts say the recent recession -- from December 2007 to June 2009 -- was a major factor driving down births overall.
The total number of births also has been dropping, as have birth rates among all women except those 40 and older.
For comparison, look to the peak year of teen births -- 1957. There were about 96 births per 1,000 teen girls that year, but it was an era when women married younger, said Stephanie Ventura, a co-author of the report issued by the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC births report is based on a review of birth certificates for 2009.
Overall, about 4.1 million babies were born in 2009, down almost 3 percent from 2008. It's the second consecutive annual decline in births, after births had been increasing since 2000.
The trend may continue: A preliminary count of U.S. births through the first six months of this year suggests a continuing drop, CDC officials said.
Information from the Associated Press is included in this article.