Teen pregnancy has been declining steadily over the past two decades, but a new report released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that the decline in teen births has accelerated in recent years and dropped markedly among Black and Hispanic teens.
The report found that birth rates for teenagers aged 15-19 fell 25 percent around the country during the five year period covered by the CDC study (2007-2011).
Birth rates among Black teenagers dropped by an average of 24 percent and the birth rate for Hispanic teens, which had been higher than other racial and ethnic group, saw a 34 percent decline during the five-year period.
“To what can we attribute this dramatic drop in teen births? There are a number of key factors, including stronger teen pregnancy prevention education, the choice by many teens to delay sex, and higher rates of contraceptive use by teens who are sexually active,” wrote Dr. Howard Koh, Assistant Secretary for Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in an editorial for Huffington Post today.
In 22 states, teen Hispanic birth rates plunged at least 40 percent, which was described as “just amazing,” by the report’s lead author, Brady Hamilton of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Last year, the CDC announced the overall improvement in teen births: a record low of 31 births per 1,000 teens ages 15 to 19. That compares with 42 births per 1,000 five years earlier.
The South continued to have the highest teen birth rates overall, led by Arkansas and Mississippi, each with rates of about 50 teen births per 1,000 teenagers. In Arkansas, the majority of teen births are to white moms. In Mississippi, the majority are black.
White teens continue to have the lowest birth rate nationally, at about 22 births per 1,000. And while Black teens saw a larger decrease their rate was still more than twice the white rate, at 47 per 1,000. Overall, the Hispanic rate plummeted from 75 to 49 per 1,000.