Friday, April 30, 2010

Studies Underestimate Teen Pregnancy Rate

A new study from the Guttmacher Institute finds that teens are at a greater risk for unwanted pregnancies than previously thought.  The study takes into account pregnancy rates among teens which are sexually active, rather than teens as a whole.

The standard methods for estimating pregnancy rates underestimate the rate at which sexually active women, teens in particular, become unintentionally pregnant because does not distinguish between women who are and are not sexually active. According to the study, “only 27% of 15–17-year-olds are sexually active.”  When all teens are included, the unintended pregnancy rate among them is lower than that of all women.  However, when only sexually active teens are compared to sexually active women, the unintended pregnancy rate among teens is more than twice than the rate of women overall.  The rate among sexually active 18–19-year-olds (162 per 1,000) is also more than double the national figure.”

Here’s a chart that breaks down the differences of unintended pregnancy rates for:
All Teens (15-17)
Sexually Active Teens (15-17)
All Women (15-44)
Sexually Active Women (15-44)
40 per 1,000
147 per 1,000
51 per 1,000
69 per 1,000

These new findings reveal that teen pregnancy rates have been understated, an unsettling fact considering the $75 million recently allocated for more abstinence-only education.  Despite a report by the CDC stating that teen pregnancy rates declined by 2% in 2008 after being on the rise between 2005 and 2007, the overall teen pregnancy rates are still very high.  If we are to create effective policies to prevent teen pregnancy, we must have an accurate understanding of teen unintended pregnancy rates. Decreasing the number of teens engaging in sexual activity is a logical goal, but if a disproportionate number of sexually active teens are becoming pregnant then there is a clear failure in the current approach. Teens who choose to have sex need accurate information on how to protect themselves from pregnancy and STIs. 

1 comment:

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