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Teen pregnancy: getting the facts

By Mavis Brown

Only 13% of U.S. teens have had sex by age 15, since most initiate sex in their late teen years. By their 19th birthday, seven in ten teen men and teen women have had intercourse. The pregnancy rate among young women has declined steadily, from 117 pregnancies per 1,000 women aged 15–19 in 1990 to 68 per 1,000 in 2008.

In 2013, a total of 273,105 babies were born to women aged 15–19 years, for a live birth rate of 26.5  per 1,000 women in this age group. This is a drop of 10% from 2012, and an all time low for the United States. Teen pregnancy has declined in all 50 states and among all racial/ethnic groups, however, progress has been uneven.

In 2013, Arkansas had the highest teen birth rate with 43.5 births per 1,000 girls. On the other end of things, Massachusetts had the lowest with 12.1 births per 1,000 girls. Even with all of the decrease in teen pregnancy rates, the U.S. teen pregnancy rate is still significantly higher than in other western industrialized countries.

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