The headline to this news should be positive. It isn’t.
For while in the last 20 years children born to teenage mothers have decreased by 37% in the United States and are now at a record low, according to a Center for Disease Control (CDC) Vital Signs report released Tuesday, for Hispanic and African American teenage girls, the news is still grim.
Black and Hispanics teen girls are two to three times more likely to give birth than white teens.
Then, even for white teens, the news is only good by U.S. standards. The report says that the current U.S. rate of teen pregnancy is still as much as nine times higher as that in similar countries.
“Preventing teen pregnancy can protect the health and quality of life of teenagers, their children, and their families throughout the United States,” CDC director Thomas Frieden said in a statement. It added that U.S. teen pregnancy rate in 2009, the latest year for which data are available, hit its lowest since tracking began 70 years ago.
However, Reuters pointed out, more than 400,000 teen girls still give birth a year according to the CDC’s Vital Signs report. “Though we have made progress in reducing teen pregnancy over the past 20 years, still far too many teens are having babies,” Frieden added.
A similar perspective came from HealthDay News, a web site put out by US News & World Report.
It said that while the drop in teen pregnancy over the last two decades was good news, the U.S. teen birth rate is still up to nine times that of other affluent nations, and more than 410,000 teen births were recorded in the United States in 2009 alone, according to the CDC.
“While we are making significant progress in bringing down the teen birth rate, we have much more work to do in order to bring those rates in line with other developed countries,” Ursula Bauer, director of CDC’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, said during a noon press conference Tuesday.
Another expert agreed.
Speaking at the press conference, Dr. Wanda Barfield, director of the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion’s division of reproductive health, said that teens may still not be getting the sex education they need to protect themselves.
“Teens are not receiving abstinence education, as well as sexual education,” she said. “Only 50 percent of high school students are getting comprehensive sexual education including abstinence and contraception,” Barfield added.
The new CDC report is based on 2009 data on those aged 15 to 19. It finds that about 46 percent of teens say they’ve had sexual intercourse and about 14 percent of girls and 10 percent