Kids Born to Unwed Moms Hit Record High

Children Born To Unwed Mothers May Be At Greater Risk for Complications

But the CDC, as well as several sociologists, are concerned about what the statistics in the report could mean for the children born to unwed mothers.

"Surveys show that children born to two-parent families are generally better off," said the CDC's Ventura. "Health outcomes are just not as good for those born to unmarried women."

The report lists low birth weight, preterm birth, infant mortality and limited social and financial resources as hardships more likely to be faced by a child born to a single mother.

Popenoe, the co-director of the non-partisan National Marriage Project at Rutgers University, says that the rising rejection of marriage means that children will suffer the negative consequences.

"The big problem with a culture of no marriage and instead one of cohabitation is that people break up at a much higher rate than when they're married," said Popenoe.

"That means you have a more emotionally transient society, which is especially hard on any children," he said.

"No kid likes to go through changing parents in a household and so with that kind of culture you're going to have more problems like high school drop outs, teen pregnancies and juvenile delinquency," he said.

According to 2002 data, the most recent available, approximately 40 percent of all children born to unwed mothers were born to couples cohabitating, a statistic the CDC's Ventura says warrants a closer look.

"That is a good sign because cohabitation definitely suggests a stronger social connection," said Ventura. "But they're generally still not as stable as marriages and you still must look at the kids who don't have that support and are born to unwed mothers."

Popenoe said that the CDC report can be viewed as a barometer of the country's stance on the importance of marriage.

"In the U.S., cultural traditions are certainly evolving," said Popenoe.

"Many families who aren't married are just fine, but I think there is wisdom in tradition that young people don't always appreciate."

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