While teenage pregnancy rates have declined in all 50 states over the last two decades, the decrease has been much sharper in the northern parts of the U.S. than in the south and particularly in the mid-southern states.
According to a study conducted by the Guttmacher Institute, the overall pregnancy rates per 1,000 women in the U.S. between the ages of 15 to 19 was 57.4 in 2010, representing a 15 percent reduction from the 67.8 percent recorded in 2008 and a whopping 51 percent decline in the same age group from the peak number of teenage pregnancies reported in 1990.
However, the report also shows the sharpest declines were recorded in the northern parts of the U.S, while several states in the middle south showed less substantial declines.
In 2010, New Mexico had the highest teenage pregnancy rate (80 pregnancies per 1,000 women); the next highest rates were in Mississippi (76), Texas (73), Arkansas (73), Louisiana (69) and Oklahoma (69). The lowest rates were in New Hampshire (28), Vermont (32), Minnesota (36), Massachusetts (37) and Maine (37).
"Even with long-term and ongoing declines (shown in the report), substantial disparities between states remain in these rates and in the patterns of pregnancy outcomes," explained Kathryn Kost, the report's lead author. "A number of factors likely contribute to differences between states, including differences in demographic characteristics of their populations, the availability of comprehensive sex education, knowledge about and availability of contraceptive services, and cultural attitudes toward sexual behavior and childbearing."
With regard to abortion rates in the U.S. the rates are a bit different state to state. In 2010 the states with the highest abortion rates were New York (32 abortions per 1,000 women), Delaware (28), New Jersey (24), Hawaii (23) and Maryland (22). The lowest rates were found in South Dakota (4) Utah (4), Kansas (5), Nebraska (5), Kentucky (6) and North Dakota (6).
The report adds fertility behaviors are affected by economic conditions as well, especially for teens, and the recession beginning in 2008 may have played a role in the more recent declines.