5 New Findings on Teen Pregnancy Rates


Teen pregnancies have decreased 61% since 1991, new CDC data suggest.

Teen pregnancies have decreased 61% since 1991, new CDC data suggest.

The data reflect a downward trend in birth rates among women aged 15 to 19 years from 1991 to 2014. The rate fell from 61.8 to 24.2 births per 1000, which is the lowest rate ever recorded.


Although this research didn’t examine what may have caused this notable drop in teen birth rates, CDC spokesperson Nikki Mayes told Pharmacy Times that some data indicate that there may be fewer teens having sex and also increased use of birth control.

“We do know that pharmacies can serve as an important point of health care services, particularly for young people who may face a number of barriers to receiving health care, such as lack of transportation, high costs of services, or concerns about privacy and confidentiality,” Mayes said. “Pharmacies can help teens overcome many of these barriers. Pharmacists have traditionally assisted customers with accessing OTC reproductive health products like condoms and pregnancy tests.”

Mayes noted that some states like California and Oregon are allowing pharmacists to provide some methods of hormonal contraception without a prescription, but the impact of this practice on teen birth rates is unclear at this point.

“While there is not going to be a one-size-fits-all solution to our nation’s teen pregnancy problem, 1 key component of our prevention efforts has to be ensuring teens have affordable access to the most effective family planning tools,” Mayes said. “Pharmacists can help fill this gap by providing youth friendly services.”

Here are 5 things pharmacists should know about teen birth rates, based on the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report from April 29, 2016:

1. There tend to be higher rates of teen pregnancies in counties with high unemployment and low education and family income.

2. Teen pregnancy costs the country about $9.4 billion per year and can cause health, financial, and social problems for the mothers.

3. From 2006 to 2014, teen birth rates dropped significantly in every state.

The decrease ranged from 13% in Nebraska to 48% in Arizona. In almost all states, the decline was significant among the 3 racial/ethnic groups examined.

“The birth rate ratio declined significantly for black teens compared with white teens in 28 states and for Hispanic teens compared with white teens in 37 states,” the CDC report stated.

4. Teen birth rates are declining the most among Hispanic women.

While teen birth rates for Hispanic and African-American teens are about twice as high as the rates for white teens, the gap seems to be narrowing.

From 2006 to 2014, the teen birth rate dropped 41% overall, and the largest declines were seen among Hispanics (51%) and African-Americans (44%). Comparatively, the rate dropped 35% among white women.

“Despite substantial declines in teen births in the United States, disparities by race/ethnicity and geography persist, highlighting the continuing need for teen pregnancy prevention efforts,” the CDC report stated. “Understanding disparities in teen birth rates and the multiple causes at the local level can help target effective interventions for populations with the greatest need.”

5. Many of the counties with high teen birth rates are located in the South and Southwest.

However, the CDC also noted that some states that had low overall teen birth rates also had counties with high teen birth rates.

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