Understanding and Preventing Teen Pregnancy

By Susan Black

Teen birth rates have declined steadily since 1957, the year when the birth rate per 1,000 girls aged 15 to 19 reached 96.3, its highest peak. In 2005, the rate was 40.5, its lowest level since 1940 when national teen birth rates were first recorded.

Recently, the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy profiled teen births using the National Vital Statistics Reports for 2006, the most recent data available. State-by-state rates, also calculated per 1,000 girls aged 15 to 19, ranged from a low of 18.7 in New Hampshire to a high of 68.4 in Mississippi.

In 2006, the U.S. teen birth rate was 41.9, double the rates in England, Canada, and Wales, and eight times the rates in Japan and the Netherlands.

Experts are worried that the U.S. national rate may be ticking upward. Between 2005 and 2006, the teen birth rate increased for the first time in 15 years, moving up 3 percent, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. 

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