9.2.16 | Christina Cauterucci
The United States' teen pregnancy rate, the very highest among the world’s 20 nations with complete statistics, has been falling since the 1990s. Since 2007, it has dropped precipitously, but teens didn’t report a significant change in their sexual activity. What could possibly be behind this welcome decline in adolescent fertility?
The answer, as sexual health advocates have been saying for years, is contraception. A recent study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health found that the entire 36 percent drop in the teen pregnancy rate between 2007 and 2013 can be attributed to increased contraceptive use and increased popularity of more effective birth control methods among teens.
Researchers from the Guttmacher Institute and Columbia University analyzed data on sexual activity and use of contraception among women aged 15 to 19 collected in several National Surveys of Family Growth, a series of nationally representative surveys conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Using this data and established rates of failure for different contraceptive methods, researchers calculated the average pregnancy risk for the respective populations of teens surveyed in 2007, 2009, and 2012.