A study done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that the number of babies being born to mothers who are teenagers is at an all time low. It has been consistently dropping for the past two decades. More research is needed to conclusively determine what caused the decrease.
According to the CDC study, from 2006 to 2014, the birth rate for teens aged 15-19 years declined 41% overall. The greatest decline was for Hispanic teens (51%), followed by non-Hispanic blacks (44%), and non-Hispanic whites (35%). The birth rate ratio also declined for black teens compared with white teens in 28 states and for Hispanic teens compared with white teens in 37 states.
It isn’t entirely clear what, exactly, is causing the teen birth rate to hit an all time low. That being said, there are some factors that might be influencing that change.
One factor that more than likely plays a part is that today’s teens have better access to contraception, and to more convenient types of contraception, than teenagers did a few decades ago. Long acting forms of birth control, such as IUDs, implants, and injection contraception, are among the most effective forms of birth control.
Another factor could be access to medically accurate sexual education. Research shows that including information on contraceptive use in a sexual education program may be more effective at decreasing teen pregnancy than abstinence-only programs are. There is no strong evidence that abstinence-only programs results in teens delaying the first time they have sex.
It should be noted that the CDC study found that the teen birth rate was not as low in some counties as it was in others. The counties that do not provide medically accurate sex education, and that block access to reproductive health care (including birth control), have a higher teen birth rate than do other areas in the same state where access is available.
A different study found that MTV’s “16 and Pregnant” TV show led to more searches and tweets regarding birth control and abortion and a 5.7% reduction in teen births 18 months following its introduction. This accounts for around 1/3 of the overall decline in teen births during that period.
Bill Albert, chief program officer for the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy noted that teens of today are having less sex than teens of previous decades were. He says there has been a change in social norms that now includes the acceptance of delaying sex, or of choosing not to have sex at all, among teens.
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