Overall, the number of teen pregnancies in the United States has declined significantly over the last 20 years. According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, the teen pregnancy rate has been falling by half since 1991. Although the numbers are still somewhat high in certain populations of people, generally it has gone down significantly. Research indicates that one in every seven female teens will have a child before the age of 20. In general, the birth rate for girls between the ages of 15-19 is 29 per every 1000.
More recently, according to an article in HealthDay, the birth rate for teens aged 15 to 19 declined 41% between 2006 and 2014, dropping down to 24.2 live births per 1,000 females, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Experts saw that greatest decline in Hispanic and black teens. Rates fell 51% for Hispanic teens and 44% for black teens. Pregnancy rates also fell for Caucasian teens by 35%
Researchers have found that there are two primary reasons for the reduction in pregnancies among American teens. These are:
Teens are having sex less often. Believe it or not, despite the myth of adolescence being a time for engaging in risky behavior, many teens are delaying their sexual activity. They are being more careful and making better choices to protect themselves. According to the CDC, about 53% of teens reported in 2013 that they have never had sex. This is an increase in the number of teens without sexual activity, indicating that teens are choosing to postpone the start of their sexual lives. In 1991, there were only 46% of teens who reported that they’ve never had sex.
Teens are using effective contraceptives. Some contraceptives are more effective than others. For instance, the increased use among teens of long-lasting and reversible contraceptives, such as the IUD and other implants, have prevented many pregnancies. According to research, teens have increased their use of the IUD and other implants from 1% in 2005 to 7% in 2013. These contraceptives are highly effective with a very low rate of failure. Furthermore, they only need to be inserted once for long-lasting protection against pregnancy.
As you can imagine when a teen becomes pregnant, they are vulnerable to a great deal of stress. And teens who give birth are typically not properly equipped to handle the large task of parenting. They lack the financial, psychological, and emotional stability. Thus, there are risks for both the teen and the child. Yet, research indicates that one in every seven female teens will have a child before the age of 20.
If you are a parent or caregiver, you can talk to your teen about the risks of sexual activity, including health risks as well as pregnancy. You can encourage your teen to use contraceptives if she is sexually active. Check in with yourself about your level of comfort in talking about sex. If you feel uncomfortable, have another adult you and/or your teen trusts to have a conversation about healthy sexual activity. Discussing this topic can keep your teen healthy, happy, and without child until they’re ready.