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Teen Pregnancy Decline Is Likely As Low As It Will Go

Teen pregnancy rates have declined, but likely bottomed out, according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Teen births dropped by a third between 1990 to 2005, but rose again in 2006 and 2007. The latest figures for 2008 show a decline of 2.4 percent, to 41.5 pregnancies per 1,000 teenagers. Experts told My Health News Daily/MSNBC the dropping rates have bottomed out, and that new strategies are needed to deglamorize teen pregnancy.

Teen birth rates were consistently highest in states across the South and Southwest, and lowest in the Northeast and upper Midwest. In 2008, state-specific teenage birth rates varied widely, from less than 25.0 per 1,000 15-19 year olds (Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont), to more than 60.0 per 1,000 (Arkansas, Mississippi, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas).

Mathews TJ, Sutton PD, Hamilton BE, Ventura SJ. State disparities in teenage birth rates in the United States. NCHS data brief, no 46. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2010.Historically, birth rates have been higher for Hispanic and non-Hispanic black teenagers than for non-Hispanic white teenagers. Thus, states with large proportions of Hispanic or non-Hispanic black teenagers would be expected to have higher overall teenage birth rates.

But there were exceptions, CDC experts noted. Birth rates for non-Hispanic white, non-Hispanic black, and Hispanic teenagers are all uniformly higher in the Southeast and lower in the Northeast and California. Birth rates for non-Hispanic white, non-Hispanic black, and Hispanic teenagers in California, New York, and New Jersey are among the 10 lowest state-specific rates for each of these population groups.

States in the upper Midwest exhibit a different pattern. Rates for non-Hispanic black teenagers in the upper Midwest are uniquely among the 10 highest rates of all states. In contrast, in the same upper Midwestern states, birth rates for non-Hispanic white teenagers are generally significantly lower than the overall U.S.

*This blog post was originally published at ACP Internist*


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