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|NUMBER 228||THE NEWSPAPER OF EDUCATION RIGHTS||JANUARY 2005|
Teen Births Plummet; |
Some Credit Given to Abstinence Education
The birth rate among girls aged 10 to 14 fell to its lowest level in 58 years in 2002, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced in November. The number of live births declined 43% from its peak in 1994 despite the 16% rise in the female population of that age group. In addition, pregnancies, abortions and birth rates declined for all teens.
CDC statistician Fay Menacker noted that in the last decade many public and private programs have focused on the importance of pregnancy prevention, including some emphasizing abstinence and responsible behavior. "These programs have been sending these messages at many levels," said Dr. Menacker, the lead author of the study. "It's possible the message is getting through." (Wall Street Journal, 11-15-04)
"A number of surveys have shown that in recent years fewer teenagers are sexually active, and they seem to be acting more responsibly," Dr. Menacker told Reuters (11-15-04).
Other factors cited by public health officials include welfare reform, increased use of contraceptives, public awareness resulting from the AIDS epidemic, and more supervised after-school programs for young teens.
Despite the improvement, the U.S. still has the highest rate of teen pregnancy in the industrialized world, with one-third of teenage girls getting pregnant at least once.