The nation's teenage pregnancy rate fell 8% between 1995 and 1997, continuing a trend that started in the early 1990s and has brought the rate to its lowest level in more than two decades. According to the new figures released in July by researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the rate decreased from 98.3 pregnancies per 1,000 women aged 15-19 in 1995 to 94.8 per 1,000 in 1996 and 90.7 per 1,000 in 1997. Statistically significant declines occurred in most states, and no state had a significant increase. CDC researchers noted that the downward trend has been attributed to "stable rates of sexual experience and activity," increased use of condoms and increased use of long-acting hormonal methods introduced in the early 1990s. Despite the decline, the U.S. rate remained considerably higher than that of most other developed countries.
The new teen pregnancy numbers were released just one month after CDC researchers published results from the 1999 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, which asked students in grades 9-12 about a range of behaviors, including sexual behaviors that contribute to unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. The report found that 50% of students had had sexual intercourse, including 8% before age 13, and that 16% had had four or more partners. While these rates were down significantly since the early 1990s, the proportion of students who were sexually active in the three months preceding the survey—36% in 1999—was not. And while researchers also found a drop in the use of oral contraceptives, they found that the use of condoms increased significantly between 1991 and 1999, to 58% among sexually active students at last intercourse.