Teen pregnancy has been an epidemic in the United States for decades and the rate of teens getting pregnant is still an issue throughout the country. Several efforts have been utilized to turn this trend around, including prevention programs in schools and a bevy of outreach programs geared towards informing teens about birth control and general safe sex practices. The statistics on teen pregnancy have been the main cause for the growing number of outreach programs.
Teen pregnancy is a result of teens having unprotected sex. According to the Guttmacher Institute, about half of teens between the ages of 15 to 19 have had sex at least once. It has been found that teens who are sexually active but do not use contraceptives have a 90 percent chance of getting pregnant in one year. The Guttmacher institute found that 750,000 women between the ages of 15 to 19 get pregnant every year and 82 percent of those pregnancies are unplanned. The Guttmacher Institute is a national institute that works towards the advancement of sexual and reproductive health worldwide with public education, research and policy analysis.
Teen pregnancy rates tend to vary by demographic and ethnicity. For example, according to the Guttmacher Institute, black women between the ages of 15 to 19 have the highest rate of teen pregnancy in the United States, followed by Hispanics and then Caucasians. In addition, while most of the statistical teen data starts with teens aged 15, teens as young as 13 and 14 are also getting pregnant across the country.
The rate of teenage pregnancy also varies throughout the country in each state. According to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, Washington D.C. ranked the highest in the country for teen pregnancy rates in 2000, followed by North Dakota, Vermont and New Hampshire.
In 2005 alone, 414,593 teens gave birth in the United States. Not all teens who become pregnant give birth, however. In fact, 29 percent of pregnant teens have abortions and 14 percent have pregnancies that result in miscarraige. In the year 2002 alone, 15 to 19 year olds who were pregnant had 214,750 abortions. According to the Guttmacher Institute, the majority of teens who have abortions are concerned about the ability to care for the baby financially, emotionally and physically.
Studies have shown that teen pregnancy prevention outreach programs are having an impact. Since the rate of teenage pregnancy reached a peak in 1990, the rate has declined 36 percent since then. The main cause of the decline is that more teens use birth control methods and/or using contraceptive methods now than they were in 1990. In fact between 1992 and 2000, all states in the country had a decrease in their teen pregnancy rates from 5 to 54 percent as a result of these types of programs.