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July 14, 2000
Contact: Katie Baer
CDC, National Center for Chronic Disease
Prevention & Health Promotion
(770) 4885131

Fact Sheet: National and State-Specific Pregnancy Rates Among Teens

The national pregnancy rate for adolescents aged 15 to 19 decreased from 1995 to 1997, according to a report published today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta. These data signal the continuation of a downward trend in adolescent pregnancy during the 1990s in most states and in the nation as a whole.

The report released today presents estimated national and state-specific adolescent pregnancy rates for 1995 to 1997 by age and race.

  • The national pregnancy rate for adolescents aged 15 to 19 declined by 7.8%.
  • Declines in the pregnancy rate occurred in 40 of the 43 reporting areas for which data were available.
  • For each year, the pregnancy rate for 18- to 19-year-olds was approximately two and a half times that of 15- to 17-year-olds. The rate of adolescents younger than 15 was approximately one ninth that of 15- to 17-year-olds.
  • Adolescent pregnancy rates were, in every state except one, higher for blacks than for whites.
  • The abortion rate for adolescents aged 15 to 19 declined by 7.5% nationally.
  • Declines in the abortion rate occurred in 32 of the 43 areas for which age-specific data were available.

These findings confirm earlier reports that teen birth and abortion rates have been on the decline in the United States since the early 1990s. The number of pregnancies was estimated by adding the number of live births to the number of legal induced abortions, and estimated fetal losses (i.e., spontaneous abortions and stillbirths) among adolescents 19 or younger.

Sexual experience, sexual activity, and effective contraceptive use are important determinants of changes in pregnancy rates. While the rates of sexual experience and sexual activity among adolescents increased during the 1980s, surveys have found that it leveled off from 1988 to 1995. At the same time, the percentage of sexually active teens using condoms and long-acting hormonal contraceptive methods increased.

Nevertheless, the United States has the highest adolescent pregnancy rate among developed countries, with over 800 thousand teenagers becoming pregnant each year. Most of these adolescents are not ready for pregnancy, childbearing, or the demands of parenthood.

The full report, "National and State-Specific Pregnancy Rates among Adolescents United States, 1995-1997", will be available online at 4 p.m. EST, July 13, 2000 at http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm4927a1.htm


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