Despite popular opinion, the kids might really be all right.
According to new statistics, the U.S. teen pregnancy, birth, and abortion rates are at a historic low.
In examining birth and health certificates from 2010 (the most recent data available), Guttmacher Institute found that approximately 6 percent of teenagers (57.4 pregnancies per 1,000 teenage girls) became pregnant—the lowest rate in 30 years and down from its peak of 51 percent in 1991. Between 2008 and 2010 alone, there was a 15-percent drop.
At 34.4 births per 1,000 teenage women, the birthrate was down 44 percent from its peak rate of 61.8 in 1991. The abortion rate is down too: In 2010, there were 14.7 abortions per 1,000 teenagers, which is the lowest it's been since the procedure was legalized.
What's the secret? Teenagers aren't having less sex, but it appears they are using more birth control, meaning that efforts to make sure teens have access to contraceptives and health services might really be paying off.
Still, further study is needed, the researchers at Guttmacher say. Changing cultural attitudes, the economy, the availability of sex ed, state policies, and general conversations around fertility and health services may also influence teen pregnancy, birth, and abortion rates. Additionally, the data available shows that there is still a long-standing disparity in rates by race and ethnicity among women of all ages. While the gap has narrowed, pregnancy rates among black and Hispanic teens remain higher than non-Hispanic white teens. Data from the most recent years is not yet available, so it remains to see how the trend will continue.
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