HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Concordia University School of Law

Thursday, December 7, 2006

Drop in Teenage Pregnancy Tied to Contraceptive Use

Reuters reports on a new study released by the American Journal of Public Health that has a rather unsurprising finding:  the decline in teenage pregnancy rates in the United States between 1995 and 2002 were mostly the result of improved contraceptive use, not of reduced sexual activity or abstinence.  The Reuters article describes the study and its findings as follows:

Dr. John S. Santelli from Columbia University, New York, and colleagues examined the relative contribution of declining sexual activity and improved contraceptive use to the recent decline in pregnancy rates among U.S. women between the ages of 15 to 19 years. The data were derived from interviews with nearly 1400 women in 1995 and 1150 in 2002.

The investigators estimate that the likelihood of pregnancy in this age group declined 34 percent between 1995 and 2002, and that 86 percent of the decline in pregnancy risk was attributable to improved use of contraception. Reduced sexual activity explained only 14 percent of the decline in teen pregnancy. . . .

"These data suggest that the U.S. appears to be following patterns seen in other developed countries where increased availability and increased use of modern contraceptives have been primarily responsible for declines in teenage pregnancy rates," Santelli and colleagues write.

"Our findings," they conclude, "raise questions about current U.S. government policies that promote abstinence from sexual activity as the primary strategy to prevent adolescent pregnancy."

Thanks to's broadsheet for this citation.

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