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Teen Health

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CDC: Many Teen Moms Didn’t Think They Could Get Pregnant

Survey Focuses on Teens Who Had Unplanned Babies, Often Didn’t Use Birth Control
WebMD Health News

Jan. 19, 2012 -- Teens who have babies without meaning to often don’t use birth control because they think they can’t get pregnant, according to a CDC survey.

Half the teenage moms with unplanned pregnancies who responded to the survey said they weren’t using contraceptives when their babies were conceived.

About a third of those who had unprotected sex mistakenly believed they could not get pregnant at the time.

The CDC analysis, which appears in the agency’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report(MMWR), is among the first to focus on teen moms who had unplanned pregnancies.

Its findings suggest an urgent need for better sex education and better access to contraception, says study co-researcher and CDC senior researcher Lorrie Gavin, PhD.

About 1 in 4 Said Partners Nixed Birth Control

The survey included thousands of white, African-American, and Hispanic teen girls, living in 19 states, who gave birth between 2004 and 2008.

Among the findings:

  • Nearly a fourth (23.6%) of the teens who did not use birth control said it was because their partners did not want to.
  • Twenty-two percent said even though they did not set out to have a baby, they would not mind if they got pregnant.
  • Teens in five states were asked about their use of specific contraceptives. About 24% used condoms, about 20% used oral contraceptives, and about 5% used highly unreliable methods such as rhythm and early withdrawal.
  • Hispanic teens were the most likely to mistakenly believe that they could not get pregnant at the time their babies were conceived, with 42% reporting this, compared to 32% of African-Americans and 27% of whites.
  • About 1 in 4 white and Hispanic teen moms and 1 in 5 black teen moms said they did not use birth control because their partners did not want to.


Teen Birth Rate Declining, But Still High

While fewer teens overall are having babies in the United States, the teen birth rate is still among the highest of any developed country. In 2009, close to 400,000 teens in the U.S. gave birth, the CDC says.

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