Too many younger teens still getting pregnant, CDC reports

by Steven Reinberg, Healthday Reporter
Too many younger teens still getting pregnant: CDC
Girls aged 15 to 17 account for about one-quarter of teen births, report shows.

(HealthDay)—Despite a drop in teen birth rates in recent years, too many girls under 18 are still getting pregnant, U.S. health officials said Tuesday.

Even though births to aged 15 to 17 have declined, a quarter of teen births occur in this age group—nearly 1,700 a week, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"There have been noted declines in births to teens, and that's good news," Ileana Arias, principal deputy director of the CDC, said during a noon news conference.

"However, we can't be complacent when we hear about these declines. We still need to make more progress in reducing health disparities and the public health burden related to teen pregnancies and births. Younger teens still account for one in four teen births," she said.

Arias noted that pregnancy and birth can interfere with finishing high school and can lead to sacrificing , career and income.

"The young teen years are a critical time when a teen, especially a young woman, could jeopardize her future if she cannot complete high school or go to college," she said.

Young fathers may also have to limit their education and defer their plans, Arias said.

Speaking at the news conference, Lee Warner, the CDC's associate director for science in the division of reproductive health, said that in 2012 there were 86,423 births to teens aged 15 to 17.

Warner said more education is needed for both girls and boys, and that health professionals can provide information about the best methods of contraception.

Report findings include the following, specific to teens aged 15 to 17:

  • The rate of births dropped by more than half from 1991 to 2012—from 38.6 births per 1,000 teens to 14.1.
  • Birth rates were higher among Hispanic, black and American Indian/Alaska Native teens.
  • In 2012, the birth rate per 1,000 teens in that age group was 25.5 for Hispanic teens, 21.9 for black teens, 17 for American Indian/Alaska Native teens, 8.4 for white teens and 4.1 for Asian/Pacific Islander teens.
  • Most female teens aged 15 to 17 (73 percent) have not yet had sex.
  • Most of these girls have spoken with their parents or guardians about sex, but only about four in 10 received information both on birth control and how to say no to sex.

Other findings include:

  • More than 80 percent of teen girls who have had sex had no prior formal .
  • More than 90 percent of teens used some type of contraception the last time they had sex, but most relied on the least effective method—condoms alone.

Other CDC reports found:

  • Racial and ethnic disparities in exist. This suggests the need for culturally appropriate education and services.
  • Sexually active teens are at risk for pregnancy because they use less-effective contraceptives.
  • Sex education given early may help teens abstain from sex or use effective birth control.
  • Parents and guardians can help preteens and teens avoid risky sexual behaviors.

Dr. Rani Gereige, director of medical education at Miami Children's Hospital, said several factors might contribute to the problems of , especially in minorities.

"Lack of education is the problem," he said. "This includes education from parents, teachers and health care providers."

In addition, there may be cultural reluctance to talk about sex, Gereige said. "Communication needs to start early in the preteen years before the teen initiates ," he said.

"It is also about empowering young girls to take care of their bodies and delay sexual activity and/or use contraception if they decide to become sexually active," Gereige said.

The lack of access to appropriate, confidential health care may also be a barrier for teens seeking information about sex, he said.

Gereige was clear that access to contraception does not encourage sexual activity.

"It allows prevention for teens who decide to be sexually active," he said. "The morning-after pill may help, but what helps more is education on delaying sexual activity and/or using contraception."

More information: Full Article
More Information

For more facts on teen births, visit the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Related Stories

US teen births decline: study

date Apr 05, 2011

The US teen birth rate fell to the lowest level on record in 2009 but remains one of the highest in developed countries, a report released Tuesday said.

More US teens postponing sex: study

date May 03, 2012

More US teenagers are postponing sex than in 1995, and hormonal contraceptive use is up among those who are sexually active, said US health authorities on Thursday.

US teen birth rate drops to record low

date May 23, 2013

US teen births have dropped to a record low, but the country still has one of the highest rates among developed nations, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday.

Recommended for you

Noise from fireworks threatens young ears

date 22 hours ago

(HealthDay)—The Fourth of July weekend is a time for celebrations and beautiful fireworks displays. But, parents do need to take steps to protect their children's ears from loud fireworks, a hearing expert ...

Many new teen drivers 'crash' in simulated driving task

date 22 hours ago

(HealthDay)—Around four in 10 newly licensed teen drivers "crashed" in a simulated driving test, suggesting that many adolescents lack the skills they need to stay safe on the road, according to a new study.

Insurer Aetna to buy Humana in $35B deal

date 23 hours ago

Aetna will spend about $35 billion to buy rival Humana and become the latest health insurer bulking up on government business as the industry adjusts to the federal health care overhaul.

Feeling impulsive or frustrated? Take a nap

date Jul 03, 2015

Taking a nap may be an effective strategy to counteract impulsive behavior and to boost tolerance for frustration, according to a University of Michigan study.

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.