CDC Report: We Need Better Efforts to Prevent Teen Pregnancy

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has long been involved in efforts to prevent teen pregnancy. A new report in the April issue of the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention’s Vital Signs demonstrates that while progress has been made, more targeted interventions will be needed to prevent teen pregnancy. Among the findings:

  • The rate of births per 1,000 teens aged 15 to 17 years declined 63 percent, from 38.6 in 1991 to 14.1 in 2012
  • More than 1 in 4 teens who gave birth were ages 15 to 17
  • The birth rate to younger teens is higher for Hispanic, non-Hispanic black and American Indian/Alaska Native teens.  In 2012, the birth rate per 1,000 teens aged 15 to 17 years was 25.5 for Hispanic teens, 21.9 for non-Hispanic black teens, 17 for American Indian/Alaska Native teens, 8.4 for non-Hispanic white teens and 4.1 for Asian/Pacific Islander teens.
  • Most teens aged 15-17 (73 percent) had not had sex yet

One major reason teens remain at risk for pregnancy, CDC research reveals, is that they use less-effective methods. In the Vital Signs report, while more than 90 percent of teens used some form of contraception the last time they had sex, most of them relied on methods that are among the least effective—primarily condoms without use of a more effective method. For more on this issue, read ACOG’s 2012 Committee Opinion: Adolescents and Long-Acting Reversible Contraception: Implants and Intrauterine Devices.

The CDC report also highlights the lack of effective adult counseling for many teens: Nearly 1 in 4 teens in this age group never spoke with their parents or guardians about sex, and more than 80 percent had not received any formal sex education before they had sex for the first time. In this context, a health care provider can be an invaluable source of trusted and  reliable information on contraception and sexuality. Ob-gyns can learn more on the CDC’s Teen Pregnancy page for health care providers. 

ACOG’s Patient Education materials created specifically for adolescents include You and Your Sexuality and Birth Control.



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