Teen Pregnancy Rates Lowest in 40 Years, Yet Disparities Persist

In U.S. Teenage Pregnancies, Births and Abortions, 2008: National Trends by Age, Race and Ethnicity, authors Kathryn Kost and Stanley Henshaw find that teen pregnancies have declined dramatically in the United States since their peak in the early 1990s, as have the births and abortions that result; in 2008, teen pregnancies reached their lowest level in nearly 40 years. In 2008, the teen pregnancy rate was 67.8 pregnancies per 1,000 women aged 15ā€“19, which means that about 7% of U.S. teens became pregnant that year. This rate represents a 42% decline from the peak in 1990 (116.9 per 1,000). Similarly, the birthrate declined 35% between 1991 and 2008, from 61.8 to 40.2 births per 1,000 teens; the abortion rate declined 59% from its 1988 peak of 43.5 abortions per 1,000 teens to its 2008 level of 17.8 per 1,000.

Even with reductions in pregnancy, birth and abortion rates among all racial and ethnic groups, disparities between black, white and Hispanic teens persist. After peaking in the early 1990s, the teen pregnancy rate dropped by 37% among Hispanics, 48% among blacks and 50% among non-Hispanic whites; yet the rates among black and Hispanic teens remain 2ā€“3 times as high as that of non-Hispanic white teens.

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