The good news about teen pregnancy is that overall rates are dropping. About 300,000 babies were born to mothers ages 15 to 19 in 2011, which is a record low rate. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) attributes this success to lower levels of sexual activity and higher use of birth control among teens. But this teen birth rate is still higher than in most other developed countries.
According to the CDC, teenage mothers have higher rates of incarceration, health problems and unemployment later in life than women who wait to have children. They also tend to perform more poorly in school, and about 50 percent of teenage mothers don't graduate from high school.
Preventing Teen Pregnancy
The teenage years can be a confusing time. Teens are still learning to understand their changing bodies and new feelings that they have, while their brains are still developing. Many may feel pressure from friends and others to engage in sexual activities. During this time, parents play a key role in modifying teen behavior by being open and communicating with their children.
The approach that parents take may differ from family to family, but simply talking about sex and giving kids information can help. Research indicates that when parents talk with their teens about sex, pregnancy, relationships and birth control, the children tend to delay having sex, have less sex or use birth control if they do have sex.
Health care providers also play an important role in preventing teen pregnancy. They accomplish this by making their clinics teen-friendly and encouraging reproductive health visits for children when they enter their teenage years. Doctors can also advise parents on how to talk to children about sex.
SOURCE: U.S. Centers for Disease ControlSources:About Teen Pregnancy, CDC, 2013, http://www.cdc.gov/TeenPregnancy/AboutTeenPreg.htm, Accessed 8/27/13.Parent and Guardian Resources, CDC, 2013, http://www.cdc.gov/TeenPregnancy/Parents.htm, Accessed 8/27/13.Health Care Providers and Teen Pregnancy Prevention, CDC, 2013, http://www.cdc.gov/teenpregnancy/HealthCareProviders.htm, Accessed 8/27/13.
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