CDC: More Often than Not, Pregnant Teens Didn’T Use Contraception

A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) finds that a little more than 50 percent of teenage girls in the U.S. who gave birth between 2004 and 2008 did not use contraception, and a third of them were unaware that they could get pregnant at that time. The news is discouraging, and may indicate a lack of effective teen sex education in the country.

Though the teen pregnancy rate is on the decline in the U.S., the country still has the highest number of pregnant teens among industrialized nations. According to the CDC, there were more than 400,000 babies born to teen mothers in 2009.

“These are the girls who had risky sex and ended up getting pregnant and giving birth,” co-author of the study Lorrie Gavin, who works with the CDC’s Division of Reproductive Health, told HealthDay News. “This is the group that we should pay most attention to, because they’re the ones who experienced unintended births.”

The researchers explained that in addition to being unaware that they were able to conceive, teens said they failed to use contraception because their partner didn’t want to, or because they “didn’t mind” getting pregnant.

To uncover this data, researchers combed through several surveys from the 2004-2008 Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS). Questions on the surveys asked teen girls how they felt about becoming pregnant, and whether they or their partner were doing any sort of active pregnancy prevention.

Wearing condoms is one way that teens can prevent pregnancy, and they also help prevent the spread of STDs. Buying condoms may be a challenge to some teens, however, as only 21 states and Washington, D.C., explicitly allow minors to consent to contraceptive services, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

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