Study: US teen pregnancy rate still highest

The United States still has the highest rate of teen pregnancy among countries that collect complete data, despite a marked decline since the 1990s.

The U.S. rate of 57 pregnancies per 1,000 15- to 19-year-olds was higher than New Zealand (51) and England and Wales (47), the nonprofit Guttmacher Institute found in a new study. Switzerland has the lowest teen pregnancy rate (8), followed by the Netherlands, Slovenia and Singapore (14).

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Researchers noted that teen pregnancy rates are still highest in parts of Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and former Soviet countries, but that data from those areas was incomplete.

"The long-term decline in teen pregnancy rates in many countries is great news," said study author Gilda Sedgh in a written statement. "Yet it is clear that far more needs to be done to bring down the comparatively high rates in countries like the United States and England and Wales so that they are on par with those in countries like Switzerland and the Netherlands."

The analysis also revealed that the share of teen pregnancies that end in abortion varies widely in the countries studied, though abortion is available in all of them. In the United States, 26 percent of teen pregnancies end in abortion compared with 70 percent in Sweden.

The analysis used statistics from the United Nations Statistics Division.

President Obama praised the decline in the U.S. teen pregnancy rate in this week's State of the Union address.

"We still may not agree on a woman’s right to choose," he told Republicans, "but surely we can agree it’s a good thing that teen pregnancies and abortions are nearing all-time lows."

The teen pregnancy rate was 57.4 per 1,000 women ages 15 to 19 in 2010, Guttmacher reported, a 15 percent decline over two years. The rate declined by half since its peak in 1990.