Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Teen Pregnancies are up

FROM NBC: After years of decline, the number of teen pregnancies in the U.S. rose in 2006. The question now is why -- and whether this increase signals a new, disturbing trend.

The teen years are a time of firsts -- first car, first love... and increasingly, first child. Heather Boonstra from the Guttmacher Institute said, "The teen pregnancy rates have actually jumped for the first time in the last few decades." A sexual and reproductive health think-tank called the Guttmacher Institute has released data that show the number of pregnant teens rose 3-percent in 2006. That's a reversal from sharp declines of more than 40-percent seen during the 1990's.

"That progress really came to a halt in the 2000s." The Institute's Heather Boonstra says a focus on abstinence-only sex education in the 2000's simply didn't work, and suggests adding birth control 101 to sex ed.

Heather Boonstra, Guttmacher Institute "Programs that teach about both actually show to help teens delay sexual activity, help them to have fewer sexual partners, and help them to use contraceptives more consistently."

Advocates for the abstinence-only programs say it's too simplistic to blame their message for the increase in teen pregnancies -- and instead cite a bombardment of the wrong messages from the media and pop culture... and no message at all from many parents who may be reluctant to talk about sex with their teens.

The new numbers echo previous data from the CDC, which found an uptick in the number of teens not only getting pregnant -- but carrying babies to full term. Heather Boonstra, Guttmacher Institute "An increase in teen birth rates could either mean that fewer teens are getting abortions, or it means that there are more pregnancies overall, and what this data show is that there are more pregnancies overall."

Indeed - the Guttmacher report also shows a 1-percent increase in teen abortions in 2006. The CDC is expected to release additional teen pregnancy data later this spring.

I find this alarming. What is going on? Is it cool or acceptable to be pregnant in high school these days? Why do you think more teenagers are getting pregnant?

-NewsAnchorMom Jen

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