Tuesday, January 14th, 2014
A new study of the effect of reality TV shows like MTV’s “16 and Pregnant” has found a connection between the shows, which depict the lives of teen mothers, and a “cautionary tale” effect that may actually contribute to lowered teen pregnancy rates. More from The New York Times:
A new economic study of Nielsen television ratings and birth records suggests that the show [17-year-old Kailyn Lowry] appeared in, “16 and Pregnant,” and its spinoffs may have prevented more than 20,000 births to teenage mothers in 2010.
The paper, to be released Monday by the National Bureau of Economic Research, makes the case that the controversial but popular programs reduced the teenage birthrate by nearly 6 percent, contributing to a long-term decline that accelerated during the recession.
“It’s thrilling,” said Sarah S. Brown, the chief executive of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, a nonprofit group in Washington. “People just don’t understand how influential media is in the lives of young people.”
Each episode of “16 and Pregnant” follows a different teenager through her pregnancy, delivery and the first weeks of parenthood. Its “Teen Mom” spinoff series, the latest season of which debuts on Jan. 21, follows up with the mothers and their children. The depiction of both joy and hardship is unflinching, with angry parents, medical complications, lost sleep, financial difficulties and fights with absentee boyfriends.
The two shows are both among MTV’s most watched, with some episodes drawing more than three million viewers, many of them young women. But the shows also have critics who say they glamorize teenage parenthood — especially since many of the mothers have become celebrities as a result of the show.
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Image: Teen taking pregnancy test, via Shutterstock
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Friday, December 6th, 2013
A federal report has found that the number of pregnancies in the United States continues to fall, a trend that has continued for decades. More from Health Day Reporter:
The rate reached a 12-year low in 2009, when there were about 102 pregnancies for every 1,000 women aged 15 to 44, according to the latest statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
That rate is 12 percent below the 1990 rate of about 116 pregnancies per 1,000 women. Only the 1997 rate of 102 has been lower during the past 30 years, according to the report.
Experts said two factors are driving the downward trend: improved access to birth control and decisions by women to put off childbearing until later in life.
Those trends have caused the average age of pregnancy to shift upward.
Pregnancy rates for teenagers also have reached historic lows that extend across all racial and ethnic groups. Between 1990 and 2009, the pregnancy rate fell 51 percent for white and black teenagers, and 40 percent for Hispanic teenagers.
The teen birth rate dropped 39 percent between 1991 and 2009, and the teen abortion rate decreased by half during the same period.
Overall, pregnancy rates have continued to decline for women younger than 30.
“The amount of knowledge that young women have about their birth control options is very different compared to a few decades ago,” said Dr. Margaret Appleton, director of the division of obstetrics and gynecology at the Scott & White Clinic in College Station, Texas. “Birth control is more readily available to women, and they are more knowledgeable about it.”
Image: Pregnant woman, via Shutterstock
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Monday, September 9th, 2013
Researchers at the National Center for Health Statistics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, both federal agencies, have released new data confirming that the number of babies born to teenaged mothers has dropped by 6 percentage points to 29.4 births per thousand in 2012–the lowest number since the agencies started collecting this data 73 years ago. The decline was across all racial and ethnic groups, and analysts attribute much of the drop to more women using effective birth control methods. More from NBC News:
The 2012 number is “a considerable one year drop,” says pediatrician Dr. John Santelli, a professor of population and family health at Columbia University who has no connection to the study. And it follows fairly sizable declines since 2007, when the rate was 41.5 births per thousand young women ages 15 to 19. In fact, except for a small uptick between 2005 and 2007, the teen birth rate has been steadily declining since 1991, when it reached 61.8 births per thousand.
“Our data comes from the birth certificate that parents complete at the hospital and it provides a wealth of information,” says Brady E. Hamilton, a statistician with the National Center for Health Statistics and the lead author of the report. But to figure out why the teen birth rate is falling, “we have to rely on other sources,” Hamilton says, such as surveys that the CDC conducts of high schoolers.
Santelli has studied those and other survey results. “There is not much evidence of a change in abortion use and not much change in sexual activity” since 2003, says Santelli. For example, the percentage of high school kids reporting ever having sexual intercourse was about 54 percent in 1991, according to the CDC survey, declined through 2002, and then held steady at about 47 percent through 2011, the last year of available data.
“What we have seen is greater availability of much more effective birth control methods,” says Santelli. While condom use increased substantially in the 1990s and early 2000s among high schoolers, it actually declined slightly after that, according to the CDC survey. At the same time, medical professionals have increasingly been recommending the IUD, a small, plastic device that is inserted and left inside the uterus to prevent pregnancy, says Santelli. While it does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases, it can be used in combination with a condom, which does offer such protection.
“Young people sometimes use condoms incorrectly, and sometimes they forget to use condoms,” says Santelli. “There is almost zero user error with the IUD. Once it is in place, it works every time.”
Image: Teenage couple, via Shutterstock
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Friday, May 24th, 2013
Teen birth rates have been declining steadily in recent years, but they now have shown marked declines in virtually every U.S. state, especially in the Mountain states and especially among the Hispanic population, according to a new government report. More from The Associated Press:
All states but West Virginia and North Dakota showed significant drops over five years. But the Mountain States of Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada and Utah saw rates fall by 30 percent or more.
In 22 states, teen Hispanic birth rates plunged at least 40 percent, which was described as “just amazing,” by the report’s lead author, Brady Hamilton of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
What’s driving the declines? No one can say for sure. Experts believe the explanation is complicated and probably varies a bit from state to state. The national figure has been falling since 1991, aside from a brief interruption in 2006 and 2007.
The CDC report released Thursday is based on birth certificates for 2007 through 2011. Last year, the CDC announced the overall improvement in teen births: a record low of 31 births per 1,000 teens ages 15 to 19. That compares with 42 births per 1,000 five years earlier.
Image: United States map, via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, April 30th, 2013
Newly released court papers document how a mother in the United Kingdom forced her 14-year-old daughter to become pregnant using syringes of donor sperm, apparently in a desperate attempt to have another child herself. After seven attempts at insemination, the daughter gave birth to a baby boy at age 17. More from Yahoo News:
In a ruling reported for the first time Monday, High Court judge Peter Jackson said the mother had behaved in “a wicked and selfish way” that almost defied belief.
The judge said the woman, an American divorcee living in Britain with three adopted children, hatched the plan after she was prevented from adopting a fourth.
The scheme involved getting her oldest daughter to inseminate herself with syringes of sperm purchased over the Internet from a Denmark-based company, Cryos International.
Jackson said the daughter, identified only as A, “became pregnant at the mother’s request, using donor sperm bought by the mother, with the purpose of providing a fourth child for the mother to bring up as her own.”
In his ruling, the judge quoted the teenager as saying said she was shocked by the suggestion, but thought, “If I do this … maybe she will love me more.”
“My mum is a very determined person and she does her best not to let anything get in her way if she wants it,” the teenager added.
The baby was taken into foster care custody, and the mother is serving a 5-year jail sentence for child cruelty.
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