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Teen Pregnancy Rates at Record Low

A report released on May 1 reveals that teen pregnancy, birth, and abortion rates are the lowest in nearly three decades. Among women aged 15-19, the birth rate was 48.7 for every 1,000 girls in 1999, down from a high of 61.8 in 1991, according to the Alan Guttmacher Institute (AGI) study. The teen pregnancy rate is down to 85.6 pregnancies for every 1,000 girls aged 15-19, from a peak of 116.9 in 1990. This marks a 27 percent decline in the rate of teen pregnancies in the US. The rate of abortions has also declined, down to 24.7 for every 1,000 girls aged 15-19 from a high of 43.5 in 1988 and 1985.

“The nation’s teen pregnancy report card … is an A+,” said Sarah Brown, director of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, in response to the AGI study. Last Wednesday marked the second annual National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. “Thanks to the increasing number of teens who are making better decisions about their future, the US is on a nine-year roll of steady and robust declines in teen pregnancy,” Brown added.

A report issued last year by AGI on the declining teen pregnancy rate attributed the decline to both increasing teen abstinence and changes in teen behavior in contraceptive use. In fact, the analysis, published in The Guttmacher Report, concluded that one-fourth of the decline could be attributed to increased abstinence, while three-fourths of the decline resulted from increased and more effective contraceptive use among sexually active teens. Despite a decrease in teenage pregnancy over the past decade, the US still has significantly higher rates of teen pregnancy than other developed countries, according to a 2001 AGI study. The study suggests that lack of information about and access to effective contraceptive methods and other reproductive health services for teenagers may be a factor in the discrepancy between the US and other countries.

Sources:

AGI 5/1/2003, 2/2002; National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy 5/7/03; Kaiser Daily Reproductive Health Report 5/13/03; Feminist Daily News Wire

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