Teen birthrates hit historic low

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Though some media outlets consider good news to be no news, ACSH is delighted to report that the teen birthrate dropped 9 percent from 2009 to 2010, reaching its lowest level in almost 70 years. The statistics, compiled by the National Center for Health Statistics, included birthrate data for teenagers between the ages of 15 and 19, in all racial and ethnic groups.

With the teen birthrate now at the historic low of 34.3 births per 1,000 teens, health experts are attributing the decrease to a rise in the use of contraceptives. The number of girls who use birth control the first time they have sex has gone up dramatically, says Laura Lindberg, a senior research associate with the non-profit Guttmacher Institute in New York. Her analysis of the data also revealed that there was no change in the percentage of sexually active teen girls. And though the latest data on abortion was compiled in 2006, Lindberg points out that the general pattern over time has been declining abortion rates paralleling declining pregnancy and birth rates.

This is really great news, says ACSH's Dr. Ruth Kava, since the downstream effects of unplanned teen pregnancy are often deleterious for both mother and child.