The rate of teen pregnancy in the United States has dropped to its lowest level since records began being kept 70 years ago, said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday.
For the past 20 years, the teen birth rate has dropped 37 percent. Despite the drop, the rate is still considered high compared to the rest of the world.
The U.S. rate is still six to nine times higher than teen birth rates in Denmark, the Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland. The United Kingdom, while having the highest birth rate in Western Europe, has nearly one and half times fewer teen births compared to the U.S.
In 2009, more than 400,000 girls age 15-19 gave birth in the U.S., according to the CDC's Vital Signs study.
Findings also revealed that 46 percent of teens in the study had sexual intercourse, and out of that percentage, 14 percent of girls and 10 percent of boys said they did not use any type of birth control.
The report also indicated that blacks and Hispanic teen girls are two to three times more likely to give birth than their white counterparts.
“Though we have made progress in reducing teen pregnancy over the past 20 years, still far too many teens are having babies,” said CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden in a statement. “Preventing teen pregnancy can protect the health and quality of life of teenagers, their children, and their families throughout the United States.”
The subject of teen pregnancy became a widely discussed topic with hit reality TV shows like MTV’s “Teen Mom” and “16 and Pregnant,” which critics claim glamorizes the experience.
CDC’s Vital Signs study stated that teen childbearing brings a high emotional, physical and financial cost to both mother and child.
Half of teen moms do not receive a high school diploma before age 22; and girls born of such pregnancies are almost one-third more likely to become pregnant after reaching adolescence.
Each year, teen pregnancy and childbirth costs U.S. taxpayers about $9 billion, approximately $6 billion in lost tax revenue and $3 billion in public expenditures, the report stated.
In the study, the CDC advocated for sex education and teens talking to their parents about methods for preventing pregnancy.
The CDC also called for sexually-active teens to receive affordable and effective birth control such as condoms for boys and birth control pills, hormone shots, or an IUD for girls.
Meanwhile, faith-based organizations continue to see abstinence-until-marriage as being the most effective measure for preventing teen pregnancy as well as protecting teenagers from receiving sexually-transmitted diseases.