Teen Births Plummet to Record Low

According to an analysis by the CDC, American teenagers (ages 15 to 19) are having fewer babies. The rate, once at record highs during the 1990s, has fallen to a record low. There has been a steady decline over the last decade, but the largest changes have been with Hispanic and black teens, whose birthrates dropped 50% since 2006.

The national birthrate for teens peaked in 1991, where the epidemic filled culture with public advertising of negative health and social consequences of teen pregnancy. Since then, the birthrate has fallen 60%. Despite this improvement, teen births still cost taxpayers nine billion dollars each year.

There are a handful of reasons why this positive decline is happening. Teens today have better access to contraception, and more are using more innovative methods (injections, implants) over the standard birth control pill. Young teens are also abstaining, something that used to not be “cool”, but is now an acceptable option.

Another reason that teen pregnancy may dropping is technology. After MTV’s reality show “16 and Pregnant” debuted in 2014 revealing the everyday struggles of young moms, teen births fell 6% in the 18 months after the show’s first broadcasts. The internet allows teens other ways to explore relationships and find advice about effective contraception. High school sex education classes are incorporating lessons on financial responsibility.

While the national trend is positive, large racial and socioeconomic differences remain. Despite the huge decline, the birthrates for Hispanic and black teens is still twice as high as that of white teens. In New Jersey, the birthrate for black and Hispanic teens is almost seven times as high.  Some regions of the country, mainly in the south and southwest, with higher unemployment, lower income, and less education still have high birthrates. The U.S. has made great progress reducing teen pregnancy, but there are still too many teens having babies.

Cha, Ariana Eunjung. “Teen birthrate hits all-time low, led by 50 percent decline among Hispanics and blacks.” To Your Health. The Washington Post, 28 Apr 2016. Web. 1 May 2016.

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