What’s Behind the Decline in Teen Pregnancy Statistics?

Teen pregnancy was at a peak in 1990, but it has been in gradual decline ever since. The decline in teen pregnancy statistics that the United States has made in substantially reducing unintended pregnancies among teens over these 2 decades is amazing. After the peak of 1990, now teen pregnancy touches historic, unprecedented lows. But there is still a long way to go.

Although the rate of births in 2013 was 26.5 births per every 1,000 teen females, about 89% of these pregnancies were unintended. Those who planned it, they are well and good, but those affected by unintended and unplanned pregnancies are affected the most.

Avoiding unintended pregnancies requires educating teens and giving them accurate information about the types of contraception and abstinence. Unplanned pregnancies put teens at a risk of losing their futures; a future in which further education, life achievements and healthy social relationships are possible. Assisting teens to prevent unintended pregnancies to avoid putting their futures at risk is something we as a society must work towards.

To understand the downward in teen pregnancy statistics, we must look at the stats on unplanned pregnancies very closely. In 2010, about 614,000 US teen adolescents became pregnant, which comes to about 57 pregnancies out of 1,000 teen females. Out of those, about 82% claimed that their pregnancy was unplanned. This rate dropped down to 29.4 pregnancies per 1,000 teen females in 2012, which further dropped to 26.5 in 2013, which was recorded as the lowest mark relating to teen pregnancies recorded at the time.

So what is exactly behind the downward trend in teen pregnancy statistics?

Either teens are having less sex or they have started using contraceptives more effectively. Let’s find out.

The National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG) is the organization that carries out these surveys on a large scale. The massive decrease (86%) between the 1995 and 2002 cycles of this survey was actually a result of increased improvement in contraceptive use, where the improvement was in the areas of individual methods and multiple methods of birth control, as opposed to the non-use of birth control.

Further analysis on the data from 2003 to 2010 provided results that said that the decline in teen pregnancy in those years had nothing or very little to do with abstinence or delayed sex. Again, the decrease in unintended pregnancies has to be attributed to a massive improvement in contraceptive use amongst teens. To go into deeper detail, the use of hormonal contraceptives among sexually active teens substantially increased from 37% in 2006-2008 to 47% in 2008-2010. Use of dual methods of contraception like condoms and hormonal birth control also increased from 16% to 23% in the same period while the use of IUDs and Implants which are long-term contraceptive methods also increased from 1.4% to 4.4% in that period.

This only means that teens are only getting more and more responsible each year, as the 273,105 babies born to teens in 2013 are a huge improvement on the 641,000 that were born in 2010. That looks promising as the teen pregnancy rate will only hit lower depths as time goes on, creating more opportunities for the youth of the US.