New Data: Teen Pregnancy, Abortion on the Rise.

A teenage girl holds a pregnancy test

Image Source / Corbis

Pregnancy rates among U.S. teenagers, which had been dropping since 1990, took an upturn in 2006, according to newly released data. The figures, obtained from government sources and abortion providers by the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive-health think tank, echo previous Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that births among teens had risen. But the new Guttmacher report rounds out the picture: in 2006, there were 71.5 pregnancies for every 1,000 women under the age of 20. That’s 3% more than in 2005. The increase was concentrated among 18- and 19-year-olds — pregnancies among those 17 or younger rose only marginally — and occurred in a year when the number of abortions among teens rose 1%. (Read “Teen Pregnancy: An Epidemic in Foster Care.”)

These upticks will no doubt be scrutinized by the schools, churches and governments that had been achieving some success in lowering the teen pregnancy rate. After rising steadily with the sexual revolution of the ’70s and ’80s, the rate dropped sharply in the ’90s — and then more slowly from 2000 until 2005 — before turning upward. But even in 2006, the most recent year for which figures are available, the rate was 39% lower than 1990’s peak of 117 pregnancies for every 1,000 teen girls. (See pictures of a diverse group of American teens.)

While the recent increase has been more marked in minority women, the rate of pregnancy over the long term has dropped more rapidly among black teens. In 2005, both black and non-white Hispanic teens had a pregnancy rate of just over 12%, down from 22% and 16%, respectively. (White teens have a pregnancy rate of about 4.4%, down from 8.7%.)

When it comes to abortion, the trend line has been heading downward among whites and Hispanic teens. In 1990, 43.9% of pregnant white teens terminated their pregnancies, according to the Guttmacher report. In 2006, 29.3% did. Among Hispanics, the rate dropped from 28.1% to 22.9% in the same period. But among black teens, the rate has not moved much in 15 years — holding steady at about 41%. (Read “How to Bring an End to the War Over Sex Ed.”)

One of the innovations of the Guttmacher report is a state-by-state breakdown of pregnancy figures over the 17 years between 1988 and 2005. California, Hawaii and New Hampshire have been most successful in driving down their teen pregnancy rates, by 54%, 49% and 47%, respectively. But even at the other end of the scale, Arkansas, Iowa, North Dakota and Wyoming have all managed to lower their teen pregnancy rates by 25%.

by Belinda Luscombe.

Read more @ http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1956645,00.html

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