Happy Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month! The month kicks off with great news from the Guttmacher Institute: the teen pregnancy rate has continued to drop, reaching a historic low in 2010, the most recent year for which data are available. The Guttmacher Institute’s new report indicates that the teen pregnancy rate has fallen in every state and among all racial and ethnic groups, and at the same time the teen birth and abortion rates have continued to drop as well.
The teen pregnancy numbers for 2010 show that the teen pregnancy rate has dropped 51% from the high in 1990 and by 15% from 2008, with 18-19 year olds making up the majority (69%) of the teen pregnancies. Along with the decline in the teen pregnancy rate, the teen birthrate has also fallen 44% from the peak in 1991 and the teen abortion rate has dropped 66% from the peak in 1988.
While the teen pregnancy rate dropped in all 50 states between 2008 and 2010, there still are significant differences between the states. The states with the highest teen pregnancy rates were in order: New Mexico, Mississippi, Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma. The rates were the lowest in New Hampshire, Vermont, Minnesota, Massachusetts, and Maine.
The study also showed that between 2008 and 2010 a greater proportion of 18-19 year olds reported having sex, but fewer teens were becoming pregnant. The finding suggests that teens are increasing their use of contraceptives and that they are now using more effective methods of contraception.
While progress is being made, the U.S. still has a long way to go. According to the Guttmacher Institute “teens in the United States and Europe have similar levels of sexual activity. However, European teens are more likely than U.S. teens to use contraceptives generally and to use the most effective methods; they therefore have substantially lower pregnancy rates.”
The report also shows the importance of providing teens with comprehensive sex education and easier access to an effective means of contraception. Unfortunately, as was seen in our 50 State Report Card many states continue to rely on unproven “abstinence-only” education programs.
Posted by Jennie Wetter, Director of Public Policy