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Fall in U.S. Teen Pregnancies Mostly Due to Contraception

Decline in sexual activity played smaller role in pregnancy rate drop among U.S. teens

MONDAY, Dec. 4 (HealthDay News) -- The dramatic decline in teenage pregnancy rates in the United States since 1991 is largely due to improved contraceptive use with a decline in sexual activity playing a relatively small role, according to study findings published online Nov. 30 in the American Journal of Public Health.

John S. Santelli, M.D., M.P.H., and colleagues from the Guttmacher Institute in New York City, examined sexual activity and contraceptive use among females aged 15 to 19 years, using data from the National Survey of Family Growth from 1995-2002.

The researchers found that overall risk of pregnancy fell by 38 percent, with a larger decrease for teens aged 15 to 17 years. Eighty-six percent of the decrease was due to improved contraceptive use and the remaining 14 percent was due to reduced sexual activity. Improved contraceptive use included greater use of condoms, birth control pills and withdrawal, as well as use of multiple methods and less non-use, the authors note.

"The decline in U.S. teenage pregnancy rates appears to be following the patterns observed in other developed countries, where positive changes in contraceptive use have been the primary determinant of declining rates," Santelli and colleagues conclude.

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