May is National Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month, and the number of births to teens ages 15 to 19 years old is down to 29.4 live births per 1,000 population according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention or CDC.
For reference, in 2009 the rate was 39.1 births per 1,000 teens, and even then that rate was down 8 percent from 2007.
Since teen girls often cannot afford hospital bills and new babies, public spending is also tracked. The last available data is the $9.4 billion of public funds spent on teen childbearing in 2008.
Teen birth rates are down among all races of young women.
The teen pregnancy rate, that includes all reports of pregnancies no matter how they resulted, has also been declining in recent years.
According to a 2011 study, about 47 percent of all high school students had had sex at the time. While most teen pregnancies are not planned, 51 percent of all pregnancies among all women have been described as unplanned.
Unplanned pregnancies in general cost the public about $12.5 billion in 2008, when it was last measured.
According to Planned Parenthood of Indiana, or PPINK, Indiana’s rate of teen pregnancies is declining slower than the national average.
PPINK is calling for more contraception availability to young women.
In Indiana specifically, 25 teens get pregnant every day.
“When it comes to lowering the teen pregnancy rate, we know what works: access to birth control and comprehensive, medically accurate sex education,” said PPINK President and CEO Betty Cockrum. “When teens have the information they need, they make smarter decisions about sex. In fact, sex education that includes an abstinence-plus curriculum has been proven to help young people delay sex, and to use contraception and condoms when they do become sexually active. Ideally that education comes from parents, but we know that often is not the case.”
PPINK has 28 health centers in Indiana where they educate young women on pregnancy and STD prevention and provide affordable healthcare to sexually active teens.
“Our goal is to eliminate unintended teen pregnancies in the communities we serve,” Cockrum said. “Equipping teens with the information and health care they need to make healthy decisions is vital to creating healthy families and communities in Indiana and Kentucky.”