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Teen Birth Rate Rises, First Time Since 1991

According to a preliminary report released this week by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the teen birth rate in the US rose for the first time since 1991. The report is based on a review of more than 99 percent of the birth certificates from last year and reflects a 3 percent increase in the birth rate among teens from 2005-06. A final report to follow will have more detailed data.

Stephanie J. Ventura, who is in charge of the CDC’s reproductive statistics branch, said that it is too early to definitely determine the cause of the sudden increase after 14 years of declining teen birth rates. She added, however, that such a sudden decline was worrisome and that: ‘This early warning should put people on alert to look at the programs that are being used to see what works,” reports the Washington Post.

Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Cecile Richards said in a press release that “the United States is facing a teen pregnancy health care crisis, and the national policy of abstinence-only programs just isn’t working… Congress should put the right foot forward and immediately stop funding for dangerous abstinence-only programs that deny young people information about how to prevent pregnancy, protect their health and make responsible decisions.”

The US has spent about $1 billion on failed abstinence-only sex education programs over the past decade and President Bush has proposed a 2008 budget of $204 million for such programs. A November 7th study by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy showed that programs that combine abstinence and contraception were most effective.

Sources:

Planned Parenthood Federation of America 12/6/07; CDC 12/5/07; Washington Post 12/6/07

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