Teen births hit a new all-time low last year, continuing a steep drop the United States has seen over the last seven years.
New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that there were just 22.3 births for every 1,000 girls ages 15 to 19, which is nearly a 50 percent drop from the 2009 teen birth rate.
It appears that the decrease in teen birth rate is actually picking up, and experts were at first puzzled as to why or how it was happening. A new study published in Journal of Adolescent Health suggested that the rate with which 15 to 19-year-old women are having sex is actually is the same.
What has changed is that women are using more reliable contraceptives like IUDs and pills, rather than less reliable forms of birth control such as condoms.
As we reported in August, the solution isn't shaming or stigmatizing teen parents. In fact, states with abstinence-centered sex education tend to have the highest rates of teen pregnancy. On the contrary, if teens are educated about reliable forms of contraceptives and where they can get resources they are far less likely to face unintended pregnancies.
Part of the issue is that there is no federal curriculum for sex ed.
"Willfully inadequate" is how Sexual Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS) CEO Chitra Panjabi describes sex education in the U.S.
"If you look at the Center for Disease Control's School Health Profiles, what that shows is under 50 percent of schools meet the 16-standard criteria the CDC has as part of their sex education measures," Panjabi told A Plus in an August interview.
We've created a map that shows which state's policies require abstinence-stressing sex education and where they stand in their teen pregnancy rate.
The study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health used data up to 2012, but more recent data into 2015 is showing that sexual activity amongst teen girls is also coming down now, too. How much this has contributed to teen pregnancy rates is not known, but education and reliable birth control are certainly helping.
Cover photo: Pixabay