US teen births fall to historic low: what has been helping
The US teen birth rate is down in all 50 states, and among all racial and ethnic groups, according to data released Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Births to teenagers in the United States have reached a historic new low, with the rate cut by more than half since 1991, according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued Friday.Skip to next paragraph
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Even just in the last few years, the numbers have dropped sharply: From 2011 to 2012, the rate declined 6 percent, from 31.3 births per 1,000 down to 29.4. That followed an 8 percent decline between 2010 and 2011, and a 9 percent decline the year before. The rates are down in all 50 states, and among all racial and ethnic groups.
The high-water mark for births to young women aged 15 to 19 came in 1991, with 61.8 births per 1,000. The CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics has been tracking the numbers since 1940. But since just 2007, the rate has declined by one-third.
“It’s off-the-charts extraordinary progress,” says Bill Albert, chief program officer of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. “And the pace of progress is accelerating.”
Why is this happening? Abortion is not the answer. The rates of both teen pregnancy and abortion are also going down.
Mr. Albert suggests two primary factors:
• The availability of more methods of contraception, especially more effective methods.
Intrauterine devices (IUDs) are being prescribed more frequently, and while they don’t protect against sexually transmitted diseases the way condoms do, they are nearly foolproof in blocking conception.
“Young people sometimes use condoms incorrectly, and sometimes they forget to use condoms,” pediatrician John Santelli, professor of family health at Columbia University, tells NBC News. “There is almost zero user error with the IUD. Once it is in place, it works every time.”
• The economy.