Kern County has the second highest teen birth rate in California, according to new numbers released this week.

Kern had a birth rate of 53.4 births per every 1,000 females ages 15-19, second only to Tulare County's just higher 53.7, the California Department of Public Health reported Tuesday.

Del Norte County's 52.8 rate was the state's third worst.

Marin County had the state's lowest teen birth rate at 10.1.

On the bright side, the teen birth rate statewide has fallen to a record low of 25.7.

California's 2012 rate declined 8 percent from the 2011 rate of 28.

The statewide rate decreased among all racial and ethnic groups between 2000 and 2012, but some groups made greater strides than others.

Hispanic teens had the highest birth rate at 38.9 births per 1,000 females ages 15-19, but they also had the greatest drop, plunging 49.7 percent from 77.3 in 2000.

Also during that 12-year period, African-American teen births fell from a rate of 59.1 to 30.8, white teen births fell from a rate of 22.3 to 10.2, and Asian teen births fell from a rate of 15 to 5.

The state attributes the improvement to community- and school-based sex education programs and support services for expecting and parenting teens.

But Pedro Elias, a spokesman for the Planned Parenthood region that includes Kern, said he's worried the trend may not hold.

Elias cited three unwanted pregnancy prevention programs that lost state funding in recent years.

"I think the gains we've seen were from those programs, and I'm afraid we might regress and see our declines go up again now that they're gone," he said. "The question is, where do we go from here, and when do we start to invest in those efforts again?"

View the report, "California Teen Births: 2000-2012" online at