The rates of teenage pregnancy, birth and abortion have plummeted in every state and among all racial and ethnic groups, a new report finds.
There were 614,000 pregnancies among 15- to 19-year-old women in the United States in 2010, or about 57 pregnancies per 1,000 women in that age group, according to a new study by the Guttmacher Institute. That's a 51 percent decline from the peak rate in 1990, and a 15 percent decline from the 2008 rate, when there were about 68 pregnancies per 1,000 women in that age group.
Among the states, New Mexico had the highest teen pregnancy rate, in 2010, with 80 pregnancies per 1,000 women in the age group, followed by Mississippi, Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana and Oklahoma. New Hampshire had the lowest rate, with 28 pregnancies per 1,000, followed by New Hampshire, Vermont, Minnesota, Massachusetts and Maine. [See List of State-by-State Teen Pregnancy Rankings]
The teen birth rate also declined noticeably, to 34.4 births per 1,000 teens, a 44 percent drop from its peak in 1991, when it was 61.8 births per 1,000. The teen abortion rate fell 66 percent, from 43.5 abortions per 1,000 in 1988 to 14.7 per 1,000 in 2010, according to the report.
Drop in pregnancies
Pregnancy remains more common among older teens than younger ones, with 69 percent of teen pregnancies occurring among 18- to 19-year-olds, according to the report. Older teens were more likely than younger ones to report having ever had sex, but a smaller percentage of those who are older and have sex become pregnant, likely due to increased and more effective contraceptive use, researchers said.
"The decline in the teen pregnancy rate is great news," study leader Kathryn Kost of the Guttmacher Institute said in a statement. "Other reports had already demonstrated sustained declines in births among teens in the past few years; but now we know that this is due to the fact that fewer teens are becoming pregnant in the first place," Kost added.
Kost and her colleagues also found declines in teen pregnancy rates across all racial and ethnic groups and all 50 states. But racial and geographic disparities remain.
The teen pregnancy rate declined between 1990 and 2010 by more than 50 percent among white, black and Hispanic teens. However, pregnancy rates for black and Hispanic teens remain twice as high as the rate for white teens. In 2010, the rate among black teens was 99.5 pregnancies per 1,000 teens, the rate among Hispanic teens was 83.5 per 1,000 and the rate among white teens was 37.8 per 1,000.
The variation among races and states likely results, in part, from differences in demographics, the availability of comprehensive sex education, the knowledge and availability of contraception, and cultural attitudes toward sex and early childbearing, the researchers said.
The full Guttmacher report, released today (May 5), is available online.