NCHS officials said 1.4 million such births occurred that year, while the number of births among teenagers decreased for the 12th consecutive year. The number of teenage births during 2003 was 421,241 -- the lowest since 1946, the NCHS said.
Births to unmarried women increased to 34.6 percent of all U.S. births -- also a record, the Washington Times reported Friday.
Sarah Brown, director of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, told the Times she was struck by the sheer magnitude of the progress.
Brown: "Not only is the teen birthrate down 57 percent from 1991, to 41.6 births per 1,000 teens, but the birthrate for black teens has fallen by 67 percent over those 12 years. That is astounding progress worth national attention."
But that was offset by the number of unwed births, which increased from 1,365,966 in 2002 to 1,415,995 million in 2003 -- the highest number recorded since the federal government started keeping records in 1940, the NCHS said.