Hispanic teens are leading the way, but not for a good reason. According to new data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Hispanic teens have the highest birth rates of any teen group in the United States.
According to the data, the teen pregnancy numbers were two to three times higher for Hispanics teens compared to non-Hispanic whites, and though pregnancy numbers are going down, a lack of education still seems to be the primary reason teen births are so high.
“Although we have made significant progress reducing teen pregnancy, far too many teens are still having babies, said in a press release CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. Births to younger teens pose the greatest risk of poor medical, social and economic outcomes. Efforts to prevent teen childbearing need to focus on evidence-based approaches to delaying sexual activity and increasing use of the most effective methods of contraception for those teens who are sexually active.
Overall, birth for teenagers between the ages of 15 and 17 number approximately 1,700 per week, and while that number still seems too high it is actually a 63 percent decrease from the teen birth rates seen back in 1991.
The CDC indicates the current birth rate for younger teens is higher for Hispanic, non-Hispanic black and American Indian/Alaska Native teens. In 2012, the birth rate per 1,000 teens aged 15 to 17 years was 25.5 for Hispanic teens, 21.9 for non-Hispanic black teens, 17 for American Indian/Alaska Native teens, 8.4 for non-Hispanic white teens and 4.1 for Asian/Pacific Islander teens.
What’s more, the latest data indicates 80 percent of teens in that age group had not received any formal sexual education prior to having sex for the first time. And while 90 percent of those still having sex stated they used protection, the CDC noted young teens typically rely on the least effective methods of pregnancy prevention.
Lack of sexual education
Researchers state the numbers clearly indicate a lack of sexual education for all teens, with a particular need to focus on culturally relevant outreach methods.
“We need to provide young people with the support and opportunities they need to empower themselves. Trying to balance the task of childbearing while trying to complete their high school education is a difficult set of circumstances, even with the help of family and others, said Shanna Cox, M.S.P.H. Teens who give birth are at increased risk of having a repeat birth while still a teenager. And these younger teens are less likely to earn a high school diploma or GED than older teens who give birth.”
This latest report from the CDC isn’t the first one to point out the disparity facing Hispanic teens when it comes to pregnancy. Earlier studies in 2012 demonstrated Hispanic teens were some of the least likely among their peers to use hormonal birth control, one of the most effective means of preventing pregnancy.
Another report earlier this year linked a higher rate of teen pregnancy to mental illness, and while the study did not conclude Hispanics were directly impacted by the findings, Hispanic teens particularly girls have been shown to suffer disproportionately from depression and suicidal fantasies.