Study: Teen pregnancy, abortion rates hit historic lows

Pregnancy, birth and abortion among U.S. teenagers are at historic lows following a marked decline that began in the 1990s, according to a new study.

The Guttmacher Institute reported Monday that about 6 percent of teens became pregnant in 2010, the lowest rate in more than 30 years. Notably, the rate dropped 15 percent between 2008 and 2010 alone.

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Study authors attributed the the decline to better access to birth control and better information about how to use it.

"Efforts to ensure teens can access the information and contraceptive services they need … are paying off," said lead author Kathryn Kost in a statement.

In total, researchers found that 57.4 pregnancies occurred in 2010 per 1,000 teenage women. The teen birth and abortion rates were 34.4 and 14.7 per 1,000 women in 2010, respectively.

Guttmacher, which supports abortion rights, provides the most reliable and well-respected data about trends in U.S. teen pregnancy and abortion. In Monday's study, the term "teenager" referred to women aged 15 to 19.

"This report demonstrates that, in fact, fewer teens are becoming pregnant than at any time since tracking of this data began — reflecting our finding that both birthrates and abortion rates among teens have steadily declined," study authors wrote.

While the trends generally held steady across states, New Mexico (80 pregnancies per 1,000 women), Mississippi (76), Texas (73) and Arkansas (73) were singled out for the highest teen pregnancy rates.

The study also pointed to pronounced racial disparities when it comes to teen pregnancy, birth and abortion.

Pregnancy rates for black and Hispanic women aged 15 to 19 were more than twice the rate for non-Hispanic white women in 2010, despite dramatic declines.

Black teenagers terminated their pregnancies at roughly four times the rate of white teenagers, meanwhile. Young Hispanic women underwent abortions at almost double the rate of whites.

Still, authors concluded that the overall proportion of teenage pregnancies ending in abortion declined by one-third, from 46 to 30 percent, between 1986 and 2010.