New report on teen pregnancy reveals encouraging trend

LatinaLista — A new report by the Guttmacher Institute on the rate of teen pregnancies underscores an emerging norm for teenage girls — sexually active but more using contraceptives during their first time.

U.S. Teenage Pregnancies, Births and Abortions, 2008: State Trends by Age, Race and Ethnicity offers the most up-to-date statistics state-by-state on teen pregnancy rates, births and abortions.

The report underscores that there is not total success in keeping girls ages 15-19 from having unintended pregnancies but with more using contraceptions, experts are encouraged since girls who start out using contraceptions continue to do so throughout adulthood.

The report also found that overall the girls who get pregnant tend to be older. Girls ages 18-19 accounted for 64-76 percent of all teen pregnancies. And when it comes to Latina teens, an interesting picture emerges that goes in line with cultural expectations, at least in Texas.

Texas is one of the few states that does keep record of ethnicity when it comes to teen pregnancies, birthrates and abortions. In the statistics for Texas, it was found that Latinas, when compared to whites and blacks, had the second highest teen pregnancy rates but the highest teen birthrates; and the lowest abortion rates.

Unfortunately, three additional states with high Latino populations — California, Florida and New Mexico — don’t keep track of ethnicity to do a comparison to see if cultural expectations are still driving Latina teen attitudes on getting pregnant or having abortions.

Some other findings from the report include:

  • In 2008, New Mexico had the highest teenage pregnancy rate (93 pregnancies per 1,000 women aged 15–19); the next highest rates were in Mississippi, Texas, Nevada, Arkansas and Arizona. The lowest rates were in New Hampshire (33 per 1,000), Vermont, Minnesota, North Dakota and Massachusetts.
  • In 2008 and 2010, teenage birthrates were highest in Mississippi (55 per 1,000 in 2010), New Mexico, Arkansas and Texas. The states with the lowest teenage birthrates were New Hampshire (16 per 1,000 in 2010), Massachusetts, Vermont, Connecticut and New Jersey.
  • More than half of teenage pregnancies (excluding miscarriages) ended in abortion in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut.
  • New Jersey experienced the largest decrease in the teen pregnancy rate between 2005 and 2008, dropping from 71 to 62 pregnancies per 1,000 women aged 15–19, a 13% decline. Rates in Nevada and Arizona dropped 9% and 8%, respectively, between 2005 and 2008. During the same period, Louisiana experienced the largest increase in the teen pregnancy rate of any state, its rate rising 19%, from 67 to 80 per 1,000. However, Louisiana’s rate in 2005 was unusually low, probably because of disruptions caused by Hurricane Katrina. Utah and Pennsylvania also experienced rate increases of more than 10% (12% and 11%, respectively).
  • Between 1988 and 2000, and again between 2000 and 2005, teenage pregnancy rates declined in every state. However, between 2005 and 2008, the rate decreased 5% or more in 21 states, while increasing by 5% or more in 16 states. These changes may indicate year-to-year fluctuations, rather than trends
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