The state’s teen pregnancy rate fell 11 percent last year, a record low that has continued a six-year trend of dropping rates in the state.
According to data from the North Carolina State Center for Health Statistics and the Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Campaign of North Carolina (APPCNC), the state’s teen pregnancy rate is down 67 percent since 1990.
Only 35.2 per 1,000 (or 3.5%) of 15-19 year-old girls in North Carolina experienced a pregnancy in 2013. Pregnancy rates were down among girls of all racial backgrounds and 75 North Carolina counties saw a decrease in teen pregnancy in that year. By comparison, the teen pregnancy rate for 1990 was 105.4 per 1,000 girls ages 15-19.
Less than a quarter of pregnancies that did occur happened to a girl that had already been pregnant, the lowest proportion of repeat pregnancies in the state’s history. The teen birth rate dropped 11 percent and the teen abortion rate dropped by 13 percent lastyear.
These findings are consistent with dropping teen pregnancy rates nationwide. Researchers attribute the trend to increased use of birth control, the wide availability of effective, long-acting reversible contraceptives like the Implant and IUD’s, and a slight increase in the average age when teens first have sex. More schools and community organizations are now offering factual pregnancy prevention education as well, like the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services’ Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiatives (TPPI) in 21 counties.
“The face of teen pregnancy isn’t 16 and Pregnant,” said APPCNC CEO Kay Phillips. “We have always focused on encouraging parents, schools, and community groups to lay the groundwork for smart decision-making with age-appropriate, effective sex education. Now, we’re supplementing those strategies by helping people connect teens – especially older teens – with the most effective birth control methods as they reach the years when sexual activity is typical.”