Teenage Pregnancy Rate Declines in United States

By Emily Murray

A collective sigh from parents nationwide was released when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that the U.S. teenage pregnancy rate has finally dipped to a record low. The study looked back at all the teenage birth statistics from 1991 – 2009 and found that the latest results reveal a 37% decrease!

This may seem hard to believe since the “baby bump” is becoming as fashionable as a new pair of Prada shoes in Hollywood these days, not to mention the increase in shows featuring the dramatic lives of teenage mothers. However, while we may be hearing more about teenage pregnancy, the latest results prove that fewer young girls are actually getting pregnant.

Here are some of the additional statistics from the CDC latest findings summary.

  • 4% of teenage girls have babies each year, which represents about 10% of the average 4 million births per year.
  • Teen pregnancy rates are roughly 9 times higher in the U.S. than in other countries.
  • Nearly 50% of teen moms earn their high school diploma by 22, which is a drastic difference from the 90% of girls who graduate without having a child.
  • About half (46%) of all high school students in the U.S. have had sex which is less than the statistic of 54% from 1001.
  • The use of two birth control methods (pills, condoms, injectable birth control) has also increased from 5%  in 1999 to 9% more recently.

Looking at all this information, there are still many questions that come to mind – do we have abstinence or better birth control and Sex Ed classes at work here?  It’s a fact that since 1991, sexual education and new birth control methods have been perfected and are more wide spread. Additional CDC information proves this since currently about 65% of girls and 53% of boys receive sex education. This teaches them about abstinence and also birth control if they do plan on being sexually active. Percentages decrease slightly in the numbers of teens getting the dreaded “sex talk” from their parents. Nearly 44% of girls and 27% of boys have discussed these same topics with their parents.

In an interesting article on Salon.com this week called The Real Reason for the Decline in Teen Births, a closer examination of the CDC results is taken, highlighting the fact that many of us would like to think this decline in pregnancy is a result of abstinence, but really it’s largely due to contraception. What many don’t realize is that teens are becoming pretty savvy with the Internet offering answers in a matter of seconds to any sexual question they may have. Aside from learning more about birth control, teens are also learning how to prevent pregnancy – even after having unprotected sex.

While it shouldn’t be relied on as a regular form of birth control, teens now have greater access to emergency contraception, or the “morning after pill” then ever before. Now teens 17 and older can receive EC over the counter in the form of Plan B or Next Choice, while teens 14 years and older can have the newest morning after pill, ella shipped to their home after completing an online consultation and getting doctor’s approval for the medication to be prescribed. This access, combined with sex education and the use of regular birth control is likely a leading cause of a decrease in teenage pregnancy.

What do you think about this decline in teenage pregnancy? Have you had “the talk” with your kids?