Fall in US teen pregnancies mostly due to contraception

January 1, 2007

The dramatic decline in teenage pregnancy rates in the United States since 1991 is largely due to improved contraceptive use with a decline in sexual activity playing a relatively small role, according to study findings published online Nov. 30 in the American Journal of Public Health.

The dramatic decline in teenage pregnancy rates in the United States since 1991 is largely due to improved contraceptive use with a decline in sexual activity playing a relatively small role, according to study findings published online Nov. 30 in the American Journal of Public Health.

John S. Santelli, MD, MPH, and colleagues from the Guttmacher Institute in New York City, examined sexual activity and contraceptive use among females aged 15 to 19, using data from the National Survey of Family Growth from 1995–2002.

The researchers found that overall risk of pregnancy fell by 38%, with a larger decrease for teens aged 15 to 17. Eighty-six percent of the decrease was due to improved contraceptive use and the remaining 14% was due to reduced sexual activity. Improved contraceptive use included greater use of condoms, birth control pills, and withdrawal, as well as use of multiple methods and less non-use, the authors note.

Santelli JS, Lindberg LD, Finer LB, et al. Explaining Recent Declines in Adolescent Pregnancy in the United States: The Contribution of Abstinence and Improved Contraceptive Use. American Journal of Public Health, 2006; Published online ahead of November 30 print publication. http:// http://www.ajph.org/cgi/content/abstract/AJPH.2006.089169v1/.