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CDC: Teenage Pregnancy Numbers Need to Fall

Update Date: Apr 09, 2014 10:10 AM EDT

According to a new federal report, sexual education classes might need to start even earlier. The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated that even though teen birth rates have fallen within the past few years, too many girls under 18 are still getting pregnant.

"There have been noted declines in births to teens, and that's good news," Ileana Arias, principal deputy director of the CDC, said. "However, we can't be complacent when we hear about these declines. We still need to make more progress in reducing health disparities and the public health burden related to teen pregnancies and births. Younger teens still account for one in four teen births."

For the report, the CDC used data from the National Survey of Family Growth. They reported that from 1991 to 2012, the rate of teen births fell from 38.6 births per 1,000 teens to 14.1 births per 1,000 teens. Even though the rate fell by more than half, in 2012, there were still 86,423 births for the age group of 15 to 17 alone. This number is equivalent to about 1,700 teen births per week. The ethnic groups that had higher rates of teen births were Hispanic (25.5 births per 1,000 teens), black (21.9 per 1,000), and American Indian/Alaska Native teens (17 per 1000).

In terms of sex education level, roughly 40 percent of them learned about birth control and how to say no to sex. However, one in every four young girls did not talk to their parents or guardians about sex. Over 80 percent of the teen girls who had sex never received formal sex education. More than 90 percent of them used contraception, with most of them using condoms, which are considered less effective. Only one percent of the teens used more effective contraceptives such as IUDs or implantable hormones.

"Efforts to prevent teen childbearing need to focus on evidence-based approaches to delaying sexual activity and increasing use of the most effective methods of contraception for those teens who are sexually active," CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden said according to NBC News.

Dr. Rani Gereige, director of medical education at Miami Children's Hospital added, according to Philly, "Lack of education is the problem. This includes education from parents, teachers and health care providers. Communication needs to start early in the preteen years before the teen initiates sexual activity. It is also about empowering young girls to take care of their bodies and delay sexual activity and/or use contraception if they decide to become sexually active."

The report can be accessed here.

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