Rates of teenage pregnancy are now the lowest they've been since 1969, but the rural areas in the United States still have the highest percentage of pregnancies for girls aged 15-19 researchers from the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy reported Wednesday.
Specifically, the data showed that:
- The teen birth rate among girls aged 15 to 19 in rural counties was 43 per 1,000 versus 33 per 1,000 in other parts of the United States.
- Among whites, the teen birth rate was more than twice as high in rural areas as in major urban areas (36 per 1,000 girls versus 16 per 1,000 girls, respectively).
- The birth rate among teens in rural counties fell by 32 percent from 1990 to 2010, but major urban areas and suburban counties had bigger declines (49 percent and 40 percent, respectively).
- Rural counties make up 16 percent of the overall teenage population in the United States and 20 percent of the teen births.
The new statistics also revealed an increase in conceptions for women over 30, confirming the general social trend towards having children later.
A common misconception about pregnancy in rural areas is that girls are having sex with older men, when in fact, they lack health clinics that are easily accessible and that offer contraception as well as counseling. Their parents may not have health insurance that makes birth control affordable, and abortion providers may be hard to find.
"This data provides an answer to a straightforward but previously unanswered question: Is rural teen childbearing higher or lower than in other places?" Sarah Brown, CEO of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, said in a news release from the nonprofit organization.
"Clearly the need for efforts to help rural teens avoid too-early pregnancy and parenthood is great."