America’s teen birth rate has fallen by half over the past decade, a stunning public health victory largely attributed to better use of contraceptives.
New federal data shows that the teen birth rate in the United States has declined from 41.5 births per 1,000 teenage girls in 2007 to 20.3 births per 1,000 teenage girls this year.
The teen birth rate has plummeted over the past decade and declined 9 percent just in the past year.
Public researchers say it is rare to see a health trend like this shift so dramatically. It took four decades, for example, to cut adult smoking in half.
Separate research has attributed the decline in teen births to better use of birth control. A recent study in the Journal of Adolescent Health found that teenage girls in 2012 were just as likely to be sexually active as girls in 2007. Survey research shows that 43 percent of girls between 15 and 19 said they’d ever had sex in 2007, compared with 45 percent in 2012.
What changed was how teenage girls used contraceptives. The percentage of sexually active teens who used at least one type of birth control the last time they had sex rose from 78 percent in 2007 to 86 percent in 2012. More teens gravitated toward better types of birth control — like pills, IUDs, or implants — rather than relying on lower-quality birth control like condoms.
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