Seven out of 10 U.S. teens ages 15 to 17 have not had sex yet, but teens in this age group give birth to 1,700 babies a week. A new Vital Signs report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds that younger teens still account for one in four teen births. While this number has declined over the years, over one quarter of teen births (1,700 births a week) still occur.
"Although we have made significant progress reducing teen pregnancy, far too many teens are still having babies,” Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the CDC, said in a statement. “Births to younger teens pose the greatest risk of poor medical, social and economic outcomes. 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.”
The breakdown in 2012 for the birth rate per 1,000 teens ages 15 to 17 years old was as follows: 25.5 for Hispanic teens, 21.9 for non-Hispanic black teens, 17 for American Indian/Alaska Native teens, 8.4 for non-Hispanic white teens and 4.1 for Asian/Pacific Islander teens. One in four teens ages 15 to 17 never spoke to their parents or caregivers about sex. And more than 80 percent of sexually active teens ages 15 to 17 did not have any type of formal sex education before they became active.
The cycle continues when adolescents who give birth don’t finish high school, as they are more likely to have another child at a young age.
“We need to provide young people with the support and opportunities they need to empower themselves. Trying to balance the task of childbearing while trying to complete their high school education is a difficult set of circumstances, even with the help of family and others,” said Shanna Cox, from CDC’s Division of Reproductive Health, the Daily Beast reported.
Developing and implementing programs are necessary in communities where teen births are highest. The CDC also recommends talking about contraception and its proper uses.