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Teen pregnancy rate lowest in two decades
April 5th, 2011
03:57 PM ET

Teen pregnancy rate lowest in two decades

Shows like "Teen Mom" and "16 and Pregnant" have helped make teen pregnancy a topic of national conversation. However, the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that the actual rate of teen pregnancies in the U.S. has declined to a record low.

In 2009, around 410,000 teenage girls, ages 15 to 19, gave birth in the United States. That's a 37 percent decrease from the teen birth rate in1991. Then, 61.8 births per every 1,000 females was a teen pregnancy. The rate has now dropped to 39.1 births per 1,000 women. Yet according to the United Nations, the rate of teen pregnancy in the United States is nearly nine times higher than in the majority of other developed nations.

In a press release attached to the new Vital Signs report, Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, the director of the CDC, wrote that despite the steady reduction in teen pregnancies over the last two decades, "still far too many teens are having babies."

"Preventing teen pregnancy can protect the health and quality of life of teenagers, their children, and their families throughout the United States."

The Vital Signs report looked at data from 1991 to 2009 and found that in addition to the steady decrease in the rate of teen pregnancies, there's also been a decrease in the percentage of high school students even having sex. More teens are using contraception, too; the CDC says the percentage of students who had sexual intercourse in the past three months without using any type of contraception decreased from sixteen percent to 12 percent while the percentage of students using two forms of contraception (for example, a condom and birth control pills) increased from 5 to 9 percent.

Still, roughly 1,100 teenage women give birth every day. According to the CDC, that means one of every ten new mothers is a teenager. The majority are Hispanic or African-American, with respective birth rates nearly double that of white teenagers. Combined, all teen pregnancies cost taxpayers about $9 billion a year.


soundoff (274 Responses)
  1. Shocked...

    Teens aren't careless, what about the parents who aren't around to show them that pregnancy is wrong? You can't just blame the teens there are other problems contributing.

    November 26, 2011 at 21:02 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Chris

      Nothing about teen pregnancy is wrong. What is wrong is the way teen's are taught about sexual education, abstinence and STIs. Without a solid sexual education program in the US the teen birth rate will continue to be the highest of any developed nation in the World. The teen pregnancy rate might be the lowest in 20 years, but not by much and it certainly isn't because teens are having less sex. Contraceptives are more readily available now than they were 10 or 20 years ago.

      More info on the Teen Birth Rate and why everyone has it wrong, including CNN can be read here: http://www.mygirlfriendspregnant.com/blog/teen-birth-rates-and-why-everyone-has-it-all-wrong/

      January 6, 2012 at 12:58 | Report abuse |
  2. Jasmine Leigh

    where are the facts that say that African American teen pregnancies double that of whites? Every socology text and new findings have recorded that more whites are becoming pregnant during teen years. I hate that people are constantly sending this image when in reality it's the majority that are having children as teenagers, as opposed to the minority.

    November 30, 2011 at 04:08 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Common Misconception

      They said double the rate, not double the number, which is a huge difference.

      December 1, 2011 at 11:33 | Report abuse |
    • Nique

      It doesn't matter, babies are having babies no matter the race.

      April 4, 2012 at 23:07 | Report abuse |
  3. Anna Marie Harris

    yeah teen pregnancy is out of control all across the united and there is nothing that we can really do about it know can we i mean yeah i think that sometimes we can try to prevent and make the birth rates in teens go down further that what it is today but there is nothing that we can do but support are children every step of the way to make her or the boyfriend feel that we still love them and care for them and go through counseling or something to work it out!!!!!! PEACE OUT GIRL AND BOY SCOUTS!!! and comment all you like because i don"t care.

    December 15, 2011 at 09:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Keith VanBenthuysen

    SPRING HILL NEWS

    Jakob’s Song. Jakob’s Story
    December 17, 2011 ⋅ Email this post ⋅ Print this post ⋅ Post a comment

    As we prepare to celebrate the birth of a Savior, I want to relate the story of an infant’s death. Perhaps his story can “save the lives of others.

    Early last year my wife came to me with the desire to add to our little family. We already had a five year old son named Joshua. I was hesitant at first but my wife was insistent. When Beverly sets her mind on something and becomes determined she will make it happen. My son has broad spectrum disorder and he would benefit from a sibling. Beverly seeks out and defends the weak, the underdogs, and the challenged.

    When we met Jakob, we immediately fell in love with him. On the outside he appeared perfect, but little did we know the battle he was fighting internally. At birth, drugs were detected in his blood stream. Drugs that his birth mother had abused. There were subtle signs of this effect on Jakob. His little fists were constantly clenched, elbows bent and tucked tightly to his chest. He lost a pound of weight in his first few weeks of life because he had a hard time holding down his formula. But, with my wife’s hard work, a grandmother who spoiled him (as grandmothers are wont to do), and a big brother helping out, Jakob began to respond and even thrive. He gained weight and was gradually beginning to relax his little muscles (thanks in no small part to Beverly’s frequent massages). The pediatrician felt that Jakob had turned a corner.

    One Saturday evening while Jakob napped, Josh and I were playing together, and Beverly was busy wrapping Christmas gifts for her “boys” (that’s what she liked to call me, Jake, and Josh) the angels came for our little Jakob. I pray that no other parent has to witness what we saw that night. We were shocked and devastated.

    We felt it was important for Josh to attend the viewing so that he would know where his little brother went. He was incessantly asking, “Where’s Jakob?” At the viewing he wanted to sing Jake a song. He chose “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”. It was a most appropriate song, for Jakob will always be our “little star”.

    I feel that Jakob’s story is about Stewardship. Stewardship. Jakob’s birth parents were not very good Stewards. Hopefully time and God will judge the VanBenthuysen family to have been good Stewards for Jake. My wish, my desire is that we will all be better Stewards of the people we love. This country suffers from a great illness of selfishness, self-indulgence, and self-importance. We need to get outside of our “selves”, turn off the computer and the cell phone and participate in Life. Hug the ones we love, become involved and cherish the short time we have with our families. Stewardship.

    Jakob was a mere 3 months old at the time of his death. I pray that Jakob’s story will inspire those with addiction issues to seek treatment. If it saves one individual or prevents the birth of an infant with those drugs in his system, then Jakob’s death will not be in vain. Stewardship.

    I would also like to express my thanks to our friends and neighbors here in Spring Hill. Even though we have only been here a brief seven months you treated us as “old” friends in this time of our great grief. Thank You.

    By Keith VanBenthuysen

    December 18, 2011 at 12:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. StudentDoingResearchForHealthClass

    hey im an 8th grade student doing research for health class. we are going to have a debate on whether or not high schools should distribute contraceptives to students. i need to know by what percent teen pregnancy and STD rate has dropped in the schools that have already decided to provide contraceptives to high school students. somebody maybe wannahhh.....help..me....please??

    January 10, 2012 at 16:36 | Report abuse | Reply
    • StudentDoingResearchForHealthClass

      and if somebody would be kind enough to help me out, yeah. it would be greatly appriciated. thanks :)

      January 10, 2012 at 16:41 | Report abuse |
    • StudentDoingResearchForHealthClass

      oh i need to know what school it was in too say like baltimore city schools...so basically the question is
      by what percent has the teen pregnancy rate dropped in baltimore city schools due to the distribution of contraceptives among the students??

      January 10, 2012 at 16:58 | Report abuse |
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  8. nb

    i would like to start talking about what it's like to be a teen mother. What i went trew and how my life changed by having a baby .

    January 28, 2012 at 21:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. brianna

    condom don't always work so people get pregnancy

    February 2, 2012 at 12:21 | Report abuse | Reply
    • o_j

      Uhmm ever think that people just don't use condoms? That's probably why they don't work and why people get pregnant.

      March 15, 2012 at 13:38 | Report abuse |
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  14. Stay Informed

    I've been reading some of the comments of this article and I wish that before people wrote their comments that they would think and ask themselves if they actually knew what they were talking about. I'm researching teen pregnancy so I'm pretty up to date with the debate and view points on both sides. The first thing I wanna say is that there are ways to help prevent teen pregnancies. I don't mean contraceptives which are extremely important, but there is eveidence that the states who really inform their students about sex, the consequences and the ways to prevent disease and teen pregnancy have less teenagers gettting pregnant. This is no coincidence. Information and contraception should be more readily available. I'm not saying that the high schools need to hand out condoms, but to explain to them that condoms are important to not only prevent pregnancy but to also prevent many sti's. Stay Informed and inform those around you!

    April 25, 2012 at 16:13 | Report abuse | Reply
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  17. Julie

    These statistics include 18 and 19 year olds, and 18 and 19 year olds are adults. They should not be included in the statistics on underage pregnancy.

    June 9, 2012 at 20:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. TEgo

    I would like to know how many teenage girls got pregnant and had an abortion.

    This reports only how many teenage girls gave birth.

    June 13, 2012 at 11:06 | Report abuse | Reply
    • bill bobson

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  20. Megan

    Has EVERYONE forgotten that almost all cultures had babies before the age of 18 until like 50 years ago? Ever heard the phrase: "If you're the first to discover something, you're wrong." ? Hmm, must not apply for all of our geniuses here. You know so much better than everyone else the past 6,000 years oh mighty ones. :(

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