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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.


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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.