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Teens

  • Abortion Rate Drops to 18 Year Low

    The pregnancy rate for women in their early 20s has fallen nearly 18% from 1990 to 2008. Additionally, the abortion rate over the same period of time has dropped by 32 percent, states the National Center for Health Statistics. The government report believes that women are deciding to delay having babies until later and using more effective birth control.

    Another report released by the Guttmacher Institute stated that based up on the government statistics, teen abortion rate was down 59% in 2008 when compared to 1988. When compared to 1990 the tean pregnancy had dropped by 42%.

    Stephanie Ventura who wrote the report, "Estimated Pregnancy Rates and Rates of Pregnancy Outcomes for the United States, 1990-2008.", for the National Center for Health Statistics stated that abortion rates have dropped across all age groups.

    Women in their 20s are waiting to get pregnant. Also, there are better birth control methods and use of condoms. Other methods include contraceptive patches that release the hormones throughout the day.

    The report stated that for all age groups in 2008, 65 out of 100 were live births, 18 abortions, and 17 were fetal loss (miscarraige). In comparison to 1990, 61 were live births, 24 abortions, and 15 ended in fetal loss.

  • Teen Birthrate Hits Record Low

    By Rob Stein, Washington Post Staff Writer

    The rate at which U.S. women are having babies continued to fall between 2008 and 2009, federal officials reported Tuesday, pushing the teen birthrate to a record low and prompting a debate about whether the drop was caused by the recession, an increased focus on encouraging abstinence, more adolescents using birth control or a combination of those factors.

    The birthrate among U.S. girls ages 15 to 19 fell from 41.5 to 39.1 births per 1,000 teens - a 6 percent drop to the lowest rate in the nearly 70 years the federal government has been collecting reliable data, according to a preliminary analysis of the latest statistics.

    "The decline in teen births is really quite amazing," said Brady E. Hamilton of the National Center for Health Statistics, who helped perform the analysis.

    The decrease marked the second year in a row that the birthrate among teens fell, meaning it has dropped for 16 out of the past 18 years. The 8 percent two-year decline strengthens hopes that an alarming 5 percent increase over the preceding two years was an aberration.

    "Just in time for the holidays, a steep decline in teen birth has been announced," said Sarah Brown of the Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancies. "We now are, thankfully, back on track."

    The reason for the record low remains unclear, but some experts attributed it to the recession, noting that the overall fertility rate as well as the total number of births in the United States fell a second straight year in 2009 as well.

    "I would not have guessed that teenagers would be most responsive to the economic downturn, but maybe we need to revise our stereotypes," said Samuel Preston, a professor of demography at the University of Pennsylvania.

    Brown and others agreed:

    "When money is very tight, all of us think harder about taking risks, expanding our families, taking on new responsibilities," Brown said. "Now, I know that teens may not be as savvy about money as those in their 20s and 30s - they probably don't stress over 401 (k)s like the rest of us - but many teens live with financially stressed adults, and they see neighbors and older friends losing jobs and even losing houses. So they, too, feel the squeeze and may be reacting to it by being more prudent. . . . Maybe part of tightening our belts includes keeping our zippers closed, too!"

    That fits with research released in the spring by the Pew Research Center, which found that states hit hardest by the recession experienced the biggest drops in births.

    "Our evidence definitely suggested there was a link between the economic circumstances and what was going on with fertility," said Gretchen Livingston, a Pew senior researcher. "I suspect that's what we're seeing with these lower numbers. This fits with the historical picture as well."

    Others suggested that the intense concern about the 2005 to 2007 increases and the attention it generated--including Bristol Palin's campaign against teen pregnancy, MTV's "16 and Pregnant" series and Washington's birth control-vs-abstinence debate - may have gotten through to teens. Some data, for example, indicate that use of birth-control pills and other forms of contraception among teen girls is increasing.

    "Although the data are preliminary, it looks like improved contraceptive use is again driving the decline in teen birthrates," said John Santelli of Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health.

    The general fertility rate fell from 68.6 births per 1,000 females ages 15 to 44 to 66.7 in 2009, and the total number of births fell from 4,247,694 to 4,131,019, That direction appears to be continuing into 2010, according to early statistics collected between January and June. The overall drop pushed the fertility rate to about 2.01, a 4 percent decrease from 2008.

    That is the largest decline since 1973, and it put the total fertility rate below the level needed to sustain the size of the population for the second year after being above the replacement rate in 2006 and 2007 for the first time in 35 years.

    The birthrate for women in their early 20s fell 7 percent, which is the largest decline for this age group since 1973, according to the report. The rates also fell for women in their late 20s and 30s, although it continued to increase for women in their early 40s.

    The rise in teen pregnancies had triggered an intense debate about whether increased funding for sex-education programs that focus on encouraging abstinence may be playing a role. As a result, proponents of abstinence education welcomed the new data, saying they exonerated their approach.

    "These trends show that the risk-avoidance message of abstinence has 'sticking power' for young people," said Valerie Huber of the National Abstinence Education Association. "This latest evidence shows that teen behaviors increasingly mirror the skills they are taught in a successful abstinence education program."

    Huber and others noted that the Obama administration has significantly reduced funding for abstinence-focused programs.

    "With a change in policy away from abstinence education, we may expect to see a reversal of the teen pregnancy birthrate in the years to come," said Jeanne Monahan of the Family Research Council.

    But critics of abstinence programs, who argue that the approach does not work, attributed the drop to the recession.

    "We certainly don't want recession to be the most effective form of birth control in the U.S.," said James Wagoner of Advocates for Youth. "We still need structural reforms in sex education, contraceptive access and pragmatic public policies to ensure a long-term decline in the teen birthrate - during good economic times as well as bad."

    The Obama administration has launched a $110 million teen pregnancy prevention effort that will support a range of programs, including those that teach about the risks of specific sexual activities and the benefits of contraception and others that focus primarily on encouraging teens to delay sex.

  • Sex, drugs more common in hyper-texting teens

    This article from MIKE STOBBE of AP

    Teens who text 120 times a day or more — and there seems to be a lot of them — are more likely to have had sex or used alcohol and drugs than kids who don't send as many messages, according to provocative new research.

    The study's authors aren't suggesting that "hyper-texting" leads to sex, drinking or drugs, but say it's startling to see an apparent link between excessive messaging and that kind of risky behavior.

    The study concludes that a significant number of teens are very susceptible to peer pressure and also have permissive or absent parents, said Dr. Scott Frank, the study's lead author.

    "If parents are monitoring their kids' texting and social networking, they're probably monitoring other activities as well," said Frank, an associate professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine.

    Frank was scheduled to present the study Tuesday at a meeting of the American Public Health Association in Denver.

    The study was done at 20 public high schools in the Cleveland area last year, and is based on confidential paper surveys of more than 4,200 students.

    It found that about one in five students were hyper-texters and about one in nine are hyper-networkers — those who spend three or more hours a day on Facebook and other social networking websites.

    About one in 25 fall into both categories.

    Hyper-texting and hyper-networking were more common among girls, minorities, kids whose parents have less education and students from a single-mother household, the study found.

    Frank's study is billed as one of the first studies to look at texting and social networking and whether they are linked to actual sexual intercourse or to other risky behaviors.

    "This study demonstrates that it's a legitimate question to explore," said Douglas Gentile, who runs the Media Research Lab at Iowa State University.

    The study found those who text at least 120 times a day are nearly three-and-a-half times more likely to have had sex than their peers who don't text that much. Hyper-texters were also more likely to have been in a physical fight, binge drink, use illegal drugs or take medication without a prescription.

    Compared to the heavy texters, the hyper-networkers were not as likely to have had sex, but more likely to have been involved in other risky behaviors like drinking or fighting.

    A Kaiser Family Foundation study found that about half of children ages 8 to 18 send text messages on a cell phone in a typical day. The texters estimated they average 118 texts per day. That study also found that only 14 percent of kids said their parents set rules limiting texting.

    Other studies have tied teen texting to risky or lewd behavior. A Pew Research Center study found that about one-third of 16- and 17-year-olds send texts while driving. And an Associated Press-MTV poll found that about one-quarter of teenagers have "sexted" — shared sexually explicit photos, videos and chat by cell phone or online.

    The latest survey did not ask what students texted or what they discussed on social networks.

    One suburban Cleveland student said her texts involve non-sexual small talk with friends, homework assignments and student council bake sales.

    "I text with my mother about what time I need picked up," said Tiara Freeman-Sargeant, a 14-year-old Shaker Heights High School freshman. She said she sends and receives about 250 texts a day.

    Talking on the phone just isn't appealing to some teens, said her classmate, Ivanna Storms-Thompson.

    "Your arm gets tired, your ear gets sweaty," said Ivanna, who also doesn't like the awkward silences.

    Like her friend, Ivanna said she mostly gets A's. Whether kids who text do well in school or behave in a crazy, risky way is coincidental, she said.

    "It depends on who you're talking to and whether they have their priorities straight," she said.

    Online:

    Conference: http://www.apha.org/meetings/

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