Teen Pregnancy Rate Drops

Teen births in 2010 fewer than in any year since mid-1940s

teenagers reading pregnancy test

The teen pregnancy rate in the United States has hit a historic low.

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According to the latest figures released by the National Center for Health Statistics, the number of teen pregnancies has been dropping since 1990.

The rate dropped 40 percent between 1990 and 2008, dropping another 9 percent from 2009 to 2010 to reach a historic low at 34.3 births for every 1,000 women from age 15–19. Overall, from 1991 to 2010, the rate of teen pregnancies dropped 44 percent, with fewer babies being born to teenagers in 2010 than in any year since the mid-1940s.

Ellen Rome, MD, did not take part in these studies but is the head of Adolescent Medicine at Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital.

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She says, “There are fewer teen pregnancies than there were, and this is the lowest rate we’ve had since 1976. There are fewer live births and fewer abortions. This is great news.” The overall declines are reflected in significant decreases in the number of live births and induced abortions between 1990 and 2008. 

Researchers say it appears less teenagers are having sex or waiting longer, while those who are sexually active are more apt to use contraception.

Dr. Rome agrees.

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“The message should be delay sex until… whatever the parents and the communities’ values are,” she says. “The second thing that is really going well now is a trend toward long-acting reversible contraceptives, especially for high risk youth. That includes methods such as Depo-Provera (the shot), IUDs and IUS,” Dr. Rome says.

Girls who have a sibling who have become pregnant and girls with academic underachievement, particularly if they are not connected well at school and at home, should be encouraged to use long-acting reversible contraceptives.

The report can be found on the Centers for Disease Control website.

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