Thanks to the popularity of shows like 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom, you might think teenage pregnancy is as common as it used to be, or even more so. But you'd be wrong. Turns out, the national birth rate among teens in the U.S. has actually plummeted dramatically since 2006, according to a new report.
"One of the nation's great success stories of the past two decades has been the historic declines in teen pregnancy and childbearing," Bill Albert, spokesman for the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, told The Huffington Post. "Since peaking in the early 1990s, we have seen declines nationally, in all 50 states, and among all racial and ethnic groups. It's truly remarkable progress on an issue that many once considered intractable."
So, what's causing the drop?
A mix of things, the researchers say. "Many factors play a role in the declines, such as culture, risk behaviors for unintended pregnancy—particularly unprotected sex—and social and community factors," said lead author Lisa Romero of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who added that better access for teens to contraceptives has also played a part, along with the popularity of long-lasting birth control methods like injectables and implants. "We are encouraged that teens are taking steps to prevent pregnancy," she said.
And here's something else: Abstinence—at least among younger teens—is apparently also on the rise. In fact, according to Veronica Gomez-Lobo, director of pediatric gynecology at Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., so many teens are waiting to have sex, that the peer pressure to do it is actually beginning to dissipate.
"We think this is a very healthy trend," she told The Washington Post.
Still, while the birth rates for Hispanic and black teens are lower than in the past, they are still twice as high as that of white teens. "The United States has made remarkable progress in reducing both teen pregnancy and racial and ethnic differences," CDC Director Tom Frieden said, "but the reality is, too many American teens are still having babies."