By Martha Kempner, RH Reality Check
According to data just released by the National Center for Health Statistics, teen birth rates fell in 2011 to an historic low of 31.1 births per 1,000 young women ages 15 to 19. This represents a 25 percent drop since 2007 and a 49 percent drop since teen birth was at its highest in 1991 when there were 61.8 births per 1,000 young women aged 15 to 19.
The report, which will be featured in the March issue of the Pediatrics, does not look at the potential reasons for these declines though many other studies have examined teen sexual behavior and contraception use over the past couple of decades. Sexual behavior data for 2011 is not available but studies in recent years have shown that fewer teens are having sexual intercourse especially at young ages. Still, most experts point to improved contraceptive use (and improved contraceptive methods) as the key to this decline.
Laura Lindberg of the Guttmacher Institute told NBC news that:
“We have gone from a social norm where you don’t use contraception at first sex to where you do. Lots of study shows that using contraception at first sex begins a pattern of using it down the road.”
She went on to point to a number of policies that may have impacted teens’ use of contraception including new guidelines that recommend IUDs and Implants (two of the methods with the lowest failure rates) for teens, health care reform changes that lower the cost of birth control, and the new CDC guidelines that suggest teens do not need pelvic exams before being prescribed the birth control pill or other hormonal methods of contraception. Of this last policy, Lindberg said this:
“We think that’s lowered what we call the psychic barrier to getting prescription contraception methods. For teenaged girls that first (exam) can be frightening.”
Te read the full article, please visit: http://rhrealitycheck.org/article/2013/02/15/teen-birth-rates-hit-historic-lows-more-access-to-contraceptives-credited/#sthash.B5umPYMj.dpuf
Kempner, M. (2013, February 30). Teen Birth Rates Hit Historic Lows; More Access to Contraceptives Credited. Rewire. Retrieved from http://rhrealitycheck.org/article/2013/02/15/teen-birth-rates-hit-historic-lows-more-access-to-contraceptives-credited/#sthash.B5umPYMj.dpuf
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