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Teen Pregnancy Rate at Its Lowest, Again, CDC Says

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The teen pregnancy rate is at a record low, again, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday. And the steady declines from 2007 to 2011 mark the most longest period in recent history for which the drop persevered.

The rate of births among girls ages 15 to 19 has been record-settingly low for the last few years, falling almost without exception since 1991. In the latest figures, the CDC said the overall rate dropped 25 percent since 2007, from 41.5 births per 1,000 teenagers to 31.3 births in 2011—and that's about a 50 percent drop in the rate since 1991. The overall number of births also dropped to 329,797, a 26 percent decrease from 2007 to 2011.

(If this drop sounds familiar, I wrote about similar numbers from preliminary CDC teen pregnancy data in the fall.)

One highlight: Declines in birth rates among Hispanic teenagers were the largest of any group, with rates falling by at least 40 percent in 22 states and the District of Columbia. In 2007, the birth rate among Hispanic teenager was 21 percent higher than the rate for blacks, but by 2011, the rate for Hispanic teenagers was only 4 percent greater.

The teen pregnancy rates fell at least 30 percent in seven states from 2007 to 2011 with even steeper declines in Arizona and Utah—of 35 percent. There was no significant change in two states: North Dakota and West Virginia.

Giving birth as a teenager can affect a young woman's health, economic security, and every other aspect of life.

In general, the CDC said the drop is the result of a combination of things, including strong teen pregnancy-prevention messages. (These new Chicago ads are stunners, and a recent teen pregnancy-prevention campaign in New York has turned particularly bold, too.)

The CDC said the most recent data from the National Survey of Family Growth show that more teens are using contraception when they first have sex and using a combination of condoms and hormonal birth control.

Although the drop is generally good news, the CDC says the numbers are still too high. And there are major worries over girls who give birth twice as teenagers—1 in 5 teen moms. When teen mothers give birth to second babies while still younger than 20, these infants are more likely to be born early and underweight. Having two babies so young makes it even more difficult for young women to attend school and get jobs.

Follow Rules for Engagement on Twitter @Rulz4Engagement and Education Week Staff Writer Nirvi Shah on Twitter @NirviShah.

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