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State & National

Teen birth rate falls to new low
Study: Pregnancies continue to drop
Published Thursday, May 8, 2014 3:12 am
by Herbert L. White

U.S. teen pregnancy, birth and abortion rates have fallen drastically from 20 years ago, a study finds. 

The survey by the Guttmacher Institute showed a steep decline in pregnancies since their peak in the early 1990s. In 2010, 614,000 pregnancies occurred among teenage girls aged 15–19, for a rate of 57.4 per 1,000 – a 51 percent slide from the 1990 peak. The 2010 rate represents a 15 percent drop in just two years, from the 2008 rate of 67.8 pregnancies per 1,000 girls, according to “U.S. Teenage Pregnancies, Births and Abortions, 2010: National and State Trends by Age, Race and Ethnicity.” 

“The decline in the teen pregnancy rate is great news,” says lead author Kathryn Kost. “Other reports had already demonstrated sustained declines in births among teens in the past few years; but now we know that this is due to the fact that fewer teens are becoming pregnant in the first place. It appears that efforts to ensure teens can access the information and contraceptive services they need to prevent unwanted pregnancies are paying off.”

North Carolina ranked 20th nationally with 59 teen pregnancies per 1,000 in 2010; 17th in birthrate (38 per 1,000) and 22nd in abortion rate at 12 per 1,000 teens. Among ethnic groups, the pregnancy rate was 87 per 1,000 among black teens in North Carolina (8,010 total), beating the national average of 99.5 in 2010. The rate among Hispanics was 100 per 1,000 (2,970 total) and 40 per 1,000 for whites (7,560 total). The black birth rate in North Carolina was 51 per 1,000 girls compared to 28 for whites and 70 for Hispanics.

Nationally, the teen birthrate declined 44 percent from the 1991 peak (from 61.8 births per 1,000 to 34.4 per 1,000); and the teen abortion rate fell 66 percent between its 1988 peak and 2010 (from 43.5 abortions per 1,000 to 14.7 per 1,000).

“Trends in teenage and young adult pregnancy, birth and abortion will need to be closely monitored over the coming years to determine how the reproductive behaviors of young women and young men in the United States may be changing,” the authors wrote. “Further research will be needed to understand the behavior, social and economic factors that are affecting these trends. Specifically, research will need to address not just why fewer teens and young adult women are having births, but also why fewer are becoming pregnant.”

While there was a drop in the pregnancy rate for 15- to 17-year-olds and 18–19-year-olds between 2008-10, pregnancies among 18- and 19-year-olds made up 69 percent of teen pregnancies. During this same time period, more 18- and 19-year-olds reported having sex, but fewer became pregnant – likely because of improved contraceptive use and more effective methods.

The study also found dramatic nationally declines in teen pregnancy rates among all racial and ethnic groups although disparities still exist. The teen pregnancy rate slid 56 percent among black teens (from 223.8 per 1,000 in 1990 to 99.5 in 2010) and non-Hispanic whites (from 86.6 per 1,000 to 37.8). The Hispanic rate fell by 51 percent among Hispanics from 169.7 per 1,000 in 1992 to 83.5 in 2010.

In 2010, New Mexico had the highest rate (80 per 1,000), followed by Mississippi (76), Texas (73), Arkansas (73), Louisiana (69) and Oklahoma (69). New Hampshire (28 per 1,000), Vermont (32), Minnesota (36), Massachusetts (37) and Maine (37) had the lowest. 



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