Fewer teens are getting pregnant now, than at any point in the last 40 years, says a new report. Researchers at the Guttmacher Institute, a sexual and reproductive health think tank, say the pregnancy rate among teens is down 42%, from 116.9 pregnancies per 1,000 women in 1990, to 67.8 pregnancies per 1,000 women in 2008. This means about 7% of young women between the ages of 15 to 19 became pregnant in the United States in 2008.
“The 30-plus years of rates that we have, have been showing a very steady decline,” said Kathryn Kost, a senior research associate at Guttmacher, and the lead author on the paper. “Rates now, from 2008 are at the lowest levels we ever seen since we started reporting them.”
Kost also says the teen birth rate – the number of actual babies born to teenage moms – was down 35% as well; and the abortion rate among teens dropped almost 60% from its peak in 1988.
The report did show that racial and ethnic disparities still exist among teenagers. Pregnancy rates among African-American and Hispanic teens were two to three times higher compared to white teens. Abortion rates among Hispanic teens were also twice the rate of abortions in whites, and abortion rates among black teens were four times higher compared to white teens. The researchers believe that although the number of teens having sex is not declining significantly, awareness about contraceptives has turned the tide in the teen pregnancy numbers.
“It’s clear that the largest share of the decline was due contraceptive use,” Kost said, “both an increase in use, and increase in use of the most effective methods.”
This is fantastic news, and lets hope the trend continues. That said, there continues go be very, very disturbing parts to these stories, and that is the data is over two years old! What if the data swings the other way, and gets worse, significantly: we won’t know about it for TWO YEARS! This is true for many social and health issues. The federal government needs to due much, much better in gathering and reporting such data. I have every intention of encouraging my future daughters and sons to use the most reliable forms of birth control as well as protection. If your body can physically make children, and you aren’t ready to raise them, then you need to do what is possible to prevent making babies. Even if you don’t intend to have sex for many years you need to be prepared, because, well, stuff happens. I would much rather deal with the fall out of my 14 year old having sex (which, face it, happens) than the fall out of my 14 year old getting pregnant or contracting an STD.