Science and Tech


U.S. Teen Pregnancy, Abortion Rates Continue To Decline

A new report suggests the decline in U.S. teen births is due to fewer teen pregnancies, but disparities still remain across ethnicities and states.
Posted at 6:02 PM, May 06, 2014

Good news: Teen pregnancies as well as teen abortions have drastically declined within the last two decades, according to a new report.

Citing previous studies that saw a drop in teen births, researchers from the Guttmacher Institute attributed the cause of that decline to a dramatic decrease in teen pregnancies to begin with.

"The pregnancy rate in the U.S. for 15- to 19-year-olds dropped by 51 percent, and this plunge was seen across all ethnic and racial groups." (Via WJBK)

And the abortion rate dropped 66 percent. The study found in 2010, only about 15 per 1,000 teen moms received abortions compared to 43 per 1,000 in 1988.

The study comes amid an earlier report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that found most teens had not received formal sexual education until after they had already become sexually active. But the new report suggests the opposite.

In just the last two years of the study alone, teen pregnancies dropped 15 percent — a decline the researchers attribute to greater access to contraceptives and awareness on preventing unwanted pregnancies. (Via OWN)

Of the more recent decline, the study notes, "Fertility behaviors are affected by economic conditions, especially for teens, and the recession beginning in 2008 may have played a role in the more recent decline." (Via Guttmacher Institute)

But, despite these declines, the study highlighted some major differences in pregnancy rates around the U.S.

According to LiveScience, New Mexico tops the list of states with the most teen pregnancies — with 80 per 1,000 pregnancies. The lowest was New Hampshire with 28.

And The Huffington Post notes although the rates have dropped across all ethnicities, they still remain about twice as high among African-American and Hispanic teens versus caucasian teens.

The researchers say more sexual education and access to contraceptives might close that gap, and further research is still needed to determine the causes of teen pregnancy trends. But others have some of their own ideas. (Via Flickr / Janine

A writer for The Washington Post notes the U.S. spends about $9 billion on teen mothers. It's a stark contrast to the mere $2 billion spent on family planning, which the Pew Research Center has credited for the drop in teen births.

And with the popularity of television shows such as MTV's "16 and Pregnant" and "Teen Mom" that researchers have deemed "sex education for the 21st century," the CDC believes more awareness on the issue will contribute to further declines in teen pregnancies all around. (Via NBC, MTV / "Teen Mom")