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May 08, 2014 09:46 AM EDT

US Teen Pregnancy at Lowest Level in Two Decades, Study

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Teen pregnancy, birth and abortion rates in the United States have reduced drastically since 1990, when it reached the maximum, according to a Guttmacher Institute study.

Teenage (15-19) women in 2010 were associated with 614,000 or 57.4 percent pregnancies, which is a 51 percent drop from the 1990 peak and a 15 percent fall in just two years (67.8 in 2008). On the other hand, the teen birth rate slumped 44 percent from the peak in 1991 (from 61.8 births to 34.4 per 1,000). The teen abortion rate went down by 66 percent between its 1988 peak and 2010 (from 43.5 abortions to 14.7 per 1,000).

Experts say, programs that encourage teens to have sex at the right age and use of contraceptives may have contributed to the figures. The economic recession that plagued the country in 2008 might have also played a role in the teen pregnancy dip.

"The decline in the teen pregnancy rate is great news," lead author Kathryn Kost said in a statement. "Other reports had already demonstrated sustained declines in births among teens in the past few years; but now we know that this is due to the fact that fewer teens are becoming pregnant in the first place. It appears that efforts to ensure teens can access the information and contraceptive services they need to prevent unwanted pregnancies are paying off."

The researchers also found a significant reduction in teen pregnancy among racial and ethnic groups. The pregnancy rates dropped by 56 percent between 1990 and 2010 among non-Hispanic whites (from 86.6 per 1,000 to 37.8) and also fell among black teens (from 223.8 per 1,000 to 99.5).

Similar improvements were also observed in Hispanic teens between 1992 and 2010. The pregnancy rate fell by 51 percent among Hispanic teens (from 169.7 per 1,000 to 83.5) between 1992 (the peak for this group) and 2010.

Teen pregnancy rates also decreased considerably in all 50 states, but inconsistency was noticed between different regions of the country.

In 2010, the highest teen pregnancy rates were reported in New Mexico (80 per 1,000), Mississippi (76), Texas (73), Arkansas (73), Louisiana (69) and Oklahoma (69). However, the lowest rates were recorded in New Hampshire (28 per 1,000), Vermont (32), Minnesota (36), Massachusetts (37) and Maine (37).

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