Teen birth rate in the U.S. has dropped, with a 50 percent decline noted among minority groups, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports.
Teen birth-associated social factors such as low educational attainment of parents and lack of career opportunities for teens are mostly noted among racial and ethnic minority groups. This adds up to the difficulty of decreasing disparities in teen births.
Teen Birth By The Numbers
From 1991 to 2014, the U.S. birth rate among those aged 15 to 19 years old plummeted 61 percent from 61.8 to 24.2 births for every 1,000. Despite this being the lowest number ever documented, Hispanics and Black teens still exhibited a twice as high birth rate compared to white teens in 2014. Also, social, economic and geographic differences persisted, regardless of race or ethnicity.
To investigate the patterns of teen births by race or ethnicity and geography, the CDC looked into national, state and county data. The agency found that in the national level, teen birth rates declined from 2006 to 2014, with an overall rate of 41 percent. The biggest drop was noted among Hispanics with 51 percent, Blacks with 44 percent and Whites with 35 percent.
Notable drops in racial and ethnic differences have occurred side by side with the momentous decline of general teen birth rate in the U.S. since 2006. The truth, however, remains that geographic and racial/ethnic disparities are still present in different states. This then calls for the need to look into local information and narrow down teen pregnancy prevention strategies in areas where they are needed the most.
From 2010 to 2015, the Office of Adolescent Health of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) collaborated with CDC to sponsor efforts in nine communities with some of the largest teen birth rates in the country.
The efforts focused on teens with Hispanic and Black descent and included activities directed toward social factors of health in the community. Some of the activities that became part of this endeavor include presenting data to civic leaders, boosting health care workers to offer their nights and weekends to the affected, promoting low-cost services for enhanced access, having culturally sensitive materials for teen health care visits and carrying out evidence-based teen pregnancy preventive strategies.
Preventive efforts are greatly needed given that racial/ethnic and geographic disparities still exist despite significant declines in general U.S. teen births.
"Understanding disparities in teen birth rates and the multiple causes at the local level can help target effective interventions for populations with the greatest need," the CDC report reads.
Existing efforts to fuse social factors in teen pregnancy prevention programs is vital in addressing the notable disparities seen in the recent report.
Photo: Torsten Mangner | Flickr