Teen pregnancy rates declined steadily in all 50 states between 1988 and 2005. However, between 2005 and 2008, the teen pregnancy rate decreased by 5% or more in 7 states, while increasing by 5% or more in 16 states, according to "U.S. Teenage Pregnancies, Births and Abortions, 2008: State Trends by Age, Race and Ethnicity." While these short-term increases are troubling, recent evidence from the CDC, including further reductions in teen birth rates in nearly all states between 2008 and 2010 and preliminary numbers indicating a decrease in teen abortions in 2009, indicate that teen pregnancy rates will continue their long-term declines.
In 2008, New Mexico had the highest teen pregnancy rate (93 per 1,000 women aged 15–19), followed by Mississippi, Texas, Nevada, Arkansas and Arizona. The lowest rates were in New Hampshire (33 per 1,000), Vermont, Minnesota, North Dakota and Massachusetts.
"There are a few key factors driving the long-term declines in teen pregnancies," said Guttmacher senior researcher Laura Lindberg. "It is now the norm for teens to use contraceptives at first sex, which creates a pattern of continued contraceptive use down the road. Additionally, teens increasingly use the most effective methods, including hormonal methods and long-acting contraceptive methods like the IUD. By contrast, there has been less change in teens' levels of sexual activity."
A large body of research has shown that the long-term decline in teen pregnancy, birth and abortion rates was driven primarily by improved use of contraceptives among teens. The continuing decrease in teen pregnancy seen more recently may be driven by increased use of the most effective contraceptive methods as well as dual method use. In sum, teens appear to be making the decision to be more effective contraceptive users, and their actions are paying off in lower pregnancy, birth and abortion rates.
This is an update of a previous report, which included state-level data through 2005. In addition to providing new state-level data for 2008, this report includes revised 2005 state teen pregnancy, birth and abortion rates using newly available final population data for years prior to the 2010 census. Data on the national teen pregnancy rate for 2008 were published at this time last year, and are available here.
Pregnancy rates are composed of all their possible outcomes—births, abortions and miscarriages; the pregnancy rate is not synonymous with the birth rate. Data on teen births in the United States become available much earlier than data on abortions, and therefore, on pregnancies. At this time, final birth data are available through 2010, although pregnancy and abortion data are only available through 2008.
Many states do not have, or could not provide, data on the race or ethnicity of teenagers obtaining abortions. Therefore, estimates of pregnancy rates among non-Hispanic white teenagers are available for 20 states; rates among black teenagers for 27 states; and rates among Hispanic teenagers for 21 states.
Click here for the full report, "U.S. Teenage Pregnancies, Births and Abortions, 2008: State Trends by Age, Race and Ethnicity."
Click here for Facts on American Teens' Sexual and Reproductive Health.