Teen Birth Rates Hit Historic Mark in the U.S.
According to a new study from researchers at the National Center for Health Statistics, a division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), teen birth rates in the United States have already dropped to a record low, down nearly 50 percent since 1991.
The report suggests that birth rates among young women aged 15 to 19 fell in all but three states and in all racial, ethnic and age groups. Several factors may account for the improvement, experts said.
Laura Lindberg, a senior researcher at the Guttmacher Institute, linked the drop in teenage pregnancies to more effective forms of birth control as soon as teens become sexually active. Lindberg told Campus Progress that several new policies such as guidelines encouraging doctors to prescribe long-lasting forms of contraception, the new Affordable Care Act rules removing cost barriers to birth control, and guidelines easing some of the hurdles to obtaining a prescription for contraceptives, have helped ensure that teens now have better access to the best forms of birth control.
Sex education has also played a role. “There was a major change in public messaging about teenage sexual activity and condom use,” said Rebecca Maynard, a professor of education and social policy at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. John Santelli, a professor of clinical population and family health at Columbia University, agrees. “I think the current generation of youth are perhaps more conscientious and cautious,” Santelli said. “This nation has made truly extraordinary progress in reducing both rates of teen pregnancies and teen births,” said Bill Albert, the chief program officer for The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. “It is not a stretch to say that this is one of the nation’s great success stories of the past decades.”
Teenage pregnancy is linked with several health and societal issues such as poverty and developmental issues, such as physical and mental health issues for the child.
Shawn Shaligram is an Online Communications Intern with Campus Progress. You can follow him on Twitter at @shatelegram.