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Teen Pregnancy Rate Drops to Lowest Ever Recorded, CDC Says

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Pregnancy rates for teenagers ages 15 to 19 are at the lowest rates ever recorded in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said today.

Across all racial groups, the birth rate declined by 25 percent overall from 2007 to 2011, the CDC said in a new report. Birth rates for teenagers ages 15 to 17 years was 15.4 per 1,000, 29 percent lower than in 2007, while the rate for teenagers 18 and 19 years old fell to 54.1 per 1,000, which is 25 percent lower than in 2007.

The birthrate for the youngest teenagers, ages 10 to 14, at less than one per 1,000, is relatively unchanged, the agency said. However there is also a decline in the female population in this age group. Nationwide, the number of births to mothers younger than 15 was 3,974.

Among different racial and ethnic groups, declines from 2010 to 2011 for 15- to 19-year-olds ranged between 6 percent and 8 percent for white, black, American Indian and Asians. The birth rate for Hispanic teenagers fell 11 percent from 2010 to 2011 and dropped 34 percent from 2007 to 2011, the largest decline of any population group, the CDC said.

Total births for teens 15 to 19 dropped 10 percent from 2010 to 2011, to 329,797, the fewest since 1946. The number has dropped 26 percent since 2007—from 444,899—and 38 percent since 1991.

A recent separate analysis of state-specific teenage birth rates found that the national declines in the teen pregnancy rate from 2007 to 2010 were reflected in all but three states.

What's at the heart of the shift, considering that the trend does hold across states with both abstinence-only sex education approaches and more comprehensive classes? Girls are waiting longer to have sex, for one thing. And a greater percentage are using methods of contraception considered highly effective.

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