In view of the often negative effects of teenage pregnancy, another decline in the teen birth rate is heartening news. According to the National Vital Statistics Report, preliminary data for 2009 shows a 6 percent drop between 2008 and 2009 in the number of U.S. births in teens ages 15-19. This accounts for 31.9 births per 1,000 teenage girls, a record low for the nation. In addition, the decrease in teen pregnancy occurred across the board for both younger and older teenagers. Plus, the drop was evident for all races and Hispanic origin groups.
Overall, the birth rate for teenager 15-17 years is reported to have dropped 48% since 1991. From 2008 to 2009, there was a 7% decline, with 20.1 births per 1,000 teenage girls. The birth rate for older teens also decreased. 2009 statistics showed 66.2 births per 1,000 teens of 18-19 years in age, a 6% decline from the previous year.
Hispanic, non-Hispanic black, non-Hispanic white, Asian, and Pacific Islanders teens all displayed a significant decrease in teen pregnancy. Historically, the birth rate for Hispanic origins has been significantly higher than those of non-Hispanic teens. However, from 2008-2009 birth rates for Hispanic teenagers aged 15-19 fell 10 percent to 70.1 births per 1,000. This is the lowest rate to be reported of Hispanic teens in the past two decades. In addition, rates for non-Hispanic white, non-Hispanic blacks, and Asian teens all experienced a decline ranging from 4 to 6 percent.
Overall, teenage pregnancy statistics in the United States have steadily decreased since 1991. However, between the years 2006-2007, there was a slight rise in the number of teen pregnancies, causing reason for alarm. Therefor, the 2008 and 2009 reports of teen birth rates once again dropping to record lows is promising news for the nation. However, the exact reasons for the declining number of teen birthrates is unclear.
According to a recent public opinion survey conducted by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, 78% of teens say they have all the information they need to prevent an unplanned pregnancy. However, alarmingly 49% of them seemed confused about condoms and how to use them properly, while another 34% agreed that contraceptives didn’t matter and that if it was your time to get pregnant, it would happen regardless. Even more alarmingly, the United States still shows the highest teen pregnancy rate of any country in the industrialized western world.
While news of the 2009 decline in teen birth rates demonstrates promise, there is still much that needs to be done to prevent teenage pregnancy and improve the lives and future prospects of children and families. Sixty-three percent of teens agree that the primary reason teens don’t use contraceptives is because they are afraid their parents will find out, while 80% say it would be easier to delay sexual activity and avoid pregnancy if they were able to communicate openly with their parents about these topics. The results of this study suggest that parents may be the biggest influence in preventing teen pregnancy.