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Teen Pregnancies Continue To Decline, New Report Shows

New government figures add to evidence of a decline in teen pregnancies across the nation and point to a notably large drop in births among Hispanic teens, NPR's Jennifer Ludden tells our Newscast Desk.

She reports that the overall birth rate among teens is now half what it was at its peak, two decades ago, and that a new report from the National Center for Health Statistics shows:

-- An especially steep drop since the recent recession. It finds birth rates down in nearly every state, and among both black and white women ages 15 to 19.

-- A striking decline in the birth rate among Hispanic teens, which fell at least 40% in nearly two dozen states. The possible reasons include: the recession that began in late 2007 and the slow recovery once growth resumed in mid-2009; and efforts to crack down on illegal immigration.

Some more details from the report:

-- "Teen birth rates fell steeply in the United States from 2007 through 2011, resuming a decline that began in 1991 but was briefly interrupted in 2006 and 2007. The overall rate declined 25% from 41.5 per 1,000 teenagers aged 15–19 in 2007 to 31.3 in 2011 — a record low."

-- "The number of births to teenagers aged 15–19 also fell from 2007 to 2011, by 26% to 329,797 in 2011."

-- "Rates fell at least 30% in seven states during 2007–2011. Rates in Arizona and Utah declined the most, 35% each."

-- "The smallest declines, ranging from 15% to 19%, were reported for 12 states and the District of Columbia (DC)."

-- "Changes were not significant in just two states — North Dakota and West Virginia."

The detailed figures from each state are posted here.

This trend is not unexpected. The Shots blog reported in February 2012 that "teen pregnancies are at their lowest rate in nearly 40 years, according to the latest data from the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization focused on sexual and reproductive health."

In addition to the effects that a weak economy may be having on teen pregnancies, experts have also credited educational efforts about the costs and consequences of pregnancy for the decline.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.
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