Racial Disparities in Teen Birth Rate Narrows

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Lisa Romero DrPH, MPH Division of Reproductive Health National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion CDC.

Dr. Lisa Romero

Lisa Romero DrPH, MPH
Division of Reproductive Health
National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Romero: Since 2006, teen birth rates have fallen almost half among Hispanic and black teens; dropping the national teen birth rate to an all-time low. While dramatic declines among Hispanic and black teens have helped reduce gaps, birth rates remain twice as high for these teens nationally compared to white teens, and more than three times as high in some states. Data also highlight the role socioeconomic conditions play, finding that higher unemployment and lower income and education are more common in communities with the highest teen birth rates, regardless of race.

This research highlights the importance of teen pregnancy prevention interventions that address socioeconomic conditions like unemployment and lower education levels, for reducing disparities in teen births rates. State and community leaders can use local data to better understand teen pregnancy in their communities and to direct programs and resources to areas with the greatest need.

To generate these findings, we analyzed national- and state-level data from the National Vital Statistics System (NVSS) to examine trends in births to American teens aged 15 to 19 years between 2006 and 2014. County-level NVSS data for 2013 and 2014 offer a point-in-time picture of local birth rates. To better understand the relationship between key social and economic factors and teen birth rates, researchers examined data from the American Community Survey between 2010 and 2014.

MedicalResearch.com: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Romero: While it’s encouraging to see that many teens are taking steps to prevent pregnancy, more must be done and healthcare providers and teens themselves can play a critical role.

Providers can help ensure teens receive comprehensive sexual and reproductive health counseling about the importance of delaying the initiation of sexual activity and about their contraceptive options during routine care. Specifically, teens need counseling on which method would be best for them, and on how to use that method correctly and consistently. Health care providers can also offer easy access to reproductive health services that are respectful, culturally appropriate and teen-friendly for both male and female teens.

For their part, teens can stay focused on finishing school and planning for their future, know both they and their partner play a role in preventing teen pregnancy, choose not to have sex or, if they are already having sex, use birth control and condoms every time, and talk with a health care provider to learn about the best types of birth control for them.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Romero: It is important to continue research to better understand disparities in teen births and the predictors of pregnancy risk for teens, including the social and economic consequences. Additional research on community-level interventions that address the social conditions associated with high teen birth rates is important in developing effective interventions for communities to address racial/ethnic and geographical disparities in teen births. Finally, more research is needed to understand the factors that contribute to the dramatic declines we are seeing in teen births.

MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Dr. Romero: These declines in teen birth rates are encouraging, but they also remind us that we’re not finished; key challenges persist for many communities. The solution to our nation’s teen pregnancy problem is not going to be a one-size-fits-all – teen birth rates vary greatly across state lines and even within states. Only by capitalizing on the expertise of our state and local public health colleagues can we work to implement proven prevention programs which take into account unique, local needs.

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Reduced Disparities in Birth Rates Among Teens Aged 15–19 Years — United States, 2006–2007 and 2013–2014

Weekly / April 29, 2016 / 65(16);409–414

Lisa Romero, DrPH1; Karen Pazol, PhD1; Lee Warner, PhD1; Shanna Cox, MSPH1; Charlan Kroelinger, PhD1; Ghenet Besera, MPH1; Anna Brittain, MHS1; Taleria R. Fuller, PhD1; Emilia Koumans, MD1; Wanda Barfield, MD

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

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