Birth rates among black and Hispanic teenagers have fallen by nearly half in the last 10 years, according to a new analysis released by the CDC. That decrease is the result of community-centric initiatives aimed at those communities, which have helped bring the overall birth rate among American teenagers down by 40 percent. However, the CDC reports that teen pregnancy is still a problem, and more action is needed to curb the trend.
The birth rate among US teens overall fell by 40 percent
The findings, published in the agency's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, are based on national- and state-level data — specifically birth rates and their relationship to socioeconomic status — for 15 to 19 year olds from between 2006 and 2014. The CDC found that the birth rates for black teenagers fell by 44 percent and those for Hispanic teens fell by 51 percent.
That's a big deal: according to recent research, teen pregnancy costs approximately $9.4 billion a year in taxpayer money. However, the agency stresses that the birth rate, which currently sits at about 2.4 percent, is still too high. "The United States has made remarkable progress in reducing both teen pregnancy and racial and ethnic differences, but the reality is, too many American teens are still having babies," said CDC Director Tom Frieden in a statement.
Indeed, the Department of Health reported earlier this year that the birth rate among white teens in the same period, while falling by 36 percent, is still about half that of their black and Hispanic counterparts. And because of regional differences that vary from state to state, as well as factors like access to education and employment, the birth rate among black and brown teens was three times higher than it was for white teens.
Due to these discrepancies, the CDC is prioritizing prevention efforts catering to specific states and communities to better address the problem. The hope is strategies that give teens access to reproductive health services and effective contraceptives will reduce the rates going forward.
The CDC is prioritizing prevention efforts aimed at black and Hispanic communities
"By better understanding the many factors that contribute to teen pregnancy we can better design, implement, evaluate, and improve prevention interventions and further reduce disparities," said Frieden.
Correction: A previous version of this piece stated that the national birth rate for US teens was 24 percent. That was incorrect. We regret the error, and have updated the piece accordingly.