Pregnancy report on teen moms reveals dangerous assumptions
Teens need more information about the conditions under which pregnancy happens, better access to birth control and skills to negotiate contraception use.
Thu, Jan 19 2012 at 12:41 PM
Photo: ZUMA Press
Half of teen mothers say they were not using birth control when they got pregnant, and a new report outlines the reasons teens give for not doing so.
Of teen moms who reported not using birth control, 31 percent said they did not believe they could get pregnant at the time. To decrease teen birth rates, teens need factual information about the conditions under which pregnancy can occur, along with public health efforts aimed at reducing or delaying teens' sexual activities, according to the report released today by researchers for the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention.
Others gave various reasons for not using birth control — 24 percent said their partner did not want to use contraception, 13 percent said they had trouble getting birth control, 9 percent said they experienced side effects from using contraception and 8 percent said they thought their sex partner was sterile. Twenty-two percent of the teens said they did not mind getting pregnant.
Health care providers and parents can work to prevent teen pregnancy by increasing teens' motivation to avoid pregnancy; providing access to contraception and encouraging the use of more effective methods, and strengthening the skills of teens to negotiate contraceptive use with their partners.
Some teen moms reported using birth control
Of all teens who gave birth, 21 percent reported using a highly effective contraceptive method, such as an intrauterine device, and an additional 24 percent reported used condoms. Inconsistent use of contraception may explain how these teens became pregnant, according to the report.
Research has shown that teens who report using birth control do not use it consistently, the report noted. One survey found that among sexually active teens who reported using condoms, only 52 percent said they used a condom every time they had sex.
The rates of not using birth control did not vary among teens of different racial groups — whether white, black or Hispanic, about half the teens reported not using birth control when they became pregnant.
There were some differences among the groups in terms of the reasons teens gave for not using birth control. Forty-two percent of Hispanic teens reported not using contraception because they did not think they could get pregnant at the time, whereas 32 percent of black teens gave that reason and 27 percent of white teens did.
Previous research has shown that 17 percent of all sexually active teens report not using birth control when they last had sex.
Teen births in the U.S.
About 400,000 U.S. teens ages 15 to 19 give birth each year, which gives the United States the highest teen birth rate in the developed world, according to the report.
Teen mothers are more likely than others to drop out of school, and infants born to teens are more likely to have low birth weight, putting them at risk for a number of health conditions, and lower academic achievement, according to the report.
The researchers used data from the Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System, which gathers data on maternal attitudes and experiences before, during and after pregnancy. Thirty-seven states and New York City contribute data to the system. The data used in the report were gathered from 2004 to 2008.
The report was limited in that it relied on the teens' own reports of their contraceptive use, and in the PRAMS data were not available from all states.
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