Teen Pregnancy Rates and Federal Action

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Teen Pregnancy was one of the CDC’s seven priority Winnable Battles from 2010-2015, meaning increased funding and prioritization at both a national and local level. Since 2007, there has been a major decrease in teen births. The current birth rate among adolescent females is down 46% since 2007. Through Winnable Battles, goals around teen pregnancy included decreasing adolescent pregnancy, delaying initiation of sexual activity, and increasing use of contraception and evidence-based family planning. The decline in teen pregnancy is attributed to a combination of higher levels of contraceptive use and waiting for sexual debut. Teen pregnancy reduction is also part of the CDC’s 6|18 Initiative that focuses on bringing together healthcare actors (payers, providers, purchasers) with CDC researchers and analysts to work on evidence-based opportunities to improve health.

Rates in a number of cities, in particular, have decreased dramatically. In Baltimore, the teen pregnancy rate dropped by a third between 2009-2013. However, higher rates continue to exist in many southern states and disparities exist across the country with higher rates in Hispanic and African American youth. Among both groups, teen pregnancies are twice as high as their white peers. Socioeconomic conditions such as education, income, racial segregation, neighborhood-level income inequality, and neighborhood physical disorder can also contribute to high teen birth rates, and young women in child welfare systems such as foster care are more likely to become pregnant. Rural counties have not seen as acute a decline as in cities, and teen birth rates remain high in these areas.