Teens who receive free contraception and are educated about their birth control options are dramatically less likely to get pregnant, give birth or get an abortion compared with other sexually active teens, according to a new study released this week.

The study promoted the use of long-acting forms of birth control, such as intrauterine devices (IUDs) and implants, which were highly recommended because of their effectiveness in preventing unintended pregnancies. Among the 1,404 teens enrolled in the Contraceptive CHOICE Project, 72% opted for IUDs or implants. (This compares with an estimated 5% of U.S. teens who choose long-acting birth control.) In the US, the use of IUD’s is rare among young women because of the cost and low levels of access. Many teens opt for less-reliable contraceptives such as birth control pills, or condoms. And of course due to ignorance or lack of options, many opt for no method at all.

“When we removed barriers to contraception for teens such as lack of knowledge, limited access and cost in a group of teens, we were able to lower pregnancy, birth and abortion rates,” said Gina Secura, PhD, the study’s first author and director of the CHOICE Project. “This study demonstrates there is a lot more we can do to reduce the teen pregnancy rate.”

From 2008-13, the annual pregnancy rate of teens ages 15-19 in the study averaged 34 per 1,000, compared with 158.5 per 1,000 in 2008 for sexually active U.S. teens. During the five-year span, the average annual birth rate among teens in the study was 19.4 per 1,000, compared with 94 per 1,000 in 2008 for sexually active U.S. teens.

The abortion rate among teens in the study also dropped dramatically. From 2008-2013, their average annual abortion rate was 9.7 per 1,000, compared with 41.5 per 1,000 in 2008 for sexually active U.S. teens. The teens in the study were already sexually active; with nearly half ages 14-17 when they enrolled. Out of these minors, half  had a prior unintended pregnancy, and 18% had had at least one abortion.

“The difference in pregnancy, birth and abortion rates between teens enrolled in the Contraceptive CHOICE Project and U.S. teens is remarkable,” said Jeffrey Peipert, MD, PhD, principal investigator of the CHOICE Project and the Robert J. Terry Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Although the teen pregnancy rate in the United States has declined in the past two decades, it remains far higher than in other industrialized countries. 3 out of  10 American girls become pregnant pregnant before they turn 20. U.S. teen births cost almost $10 billion annually in public assistance, health care and lost income, according to The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy in 2010.

Teenagers were given a free range of contraception options:

The researchers analyzed data on teens enrolled in the Contraceptive CHOICE Project, a study of more than 9,000 St. Louis women and adolescents at high risk for unintended pregnancy and willing to start a new contraceptive method. Participants had their choice of a full array of birth control options, ranging from long-acting contraceptives such as IUDs and implants to shorter-acting forms like birth control pills, patches, rings, condoms or natural family planning. The teens then were followed for two to three years.

Teens in the current study who chose IUDs or implants continued to use them longer than those who opted for shorter-acting methods such as the pill.

“We were pleasantly surprised by the number of teens choosing IUDs and implants and continuing to use them,” Peipert said. “It’s exciting that this study could provide insight into how to tackle this major health problem that greatly affects teens, their children and their communities.”

Teen pregnancy has been designated by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as one of the six “Winnable Battles” because of the magnitude of the problem and the belief that it can be addressed by known, effective strategies. The “Winnable Battle” target is to reduce the teen birth rate by 20%, or from 37.9 per 1,000 teens in 2009 to 30.3 per 1,000 teens by 2015.

 

  • LittleButterfly

    Shocker indeed! It’s amazing what can happen when common sense prevails, and the logical solution is applied a problem. I hope that the results of this study will open up the conversation on the topic of teen pregnancy even more Knowledge is power, and when teens are armed with knowledge and the right tools, they make much better choices.

    • Hooray for adults with common sense! let’s hope it starts to prevail in some of the deep South states, which have high teen birth rates as well as poverty rates- most likely due to the lack of sex education in the schools

    • Versinel

      Yes they do, too bad too many people want to put a stop to this. I know when my niece had to go on birth control (for other reasons) her dad flipped out but a month down the road he was happy to know that even if she decided to change her mindset she was prepared for it and safe about it too.

  • AltheaLRosa

    I will never understand why some people are so against handing out contraception. I don’t see the harm in raising awareness too. Doesn’t matter how you raise your kids, they very well might end up needing contraceptive.

    • Jasmine35

      This is so true. I knew a girl in high school that was really smart and such a good girl, she never did anything wrong. She ended up getting with a guy and getting pregnant. It was no surprise what happened next, she dropped out of school to get a job and help pay for her child. So it really doesn’t matter how your kids are raised, it’s a decision that they are going to make on their own and it only takes a second to mess up your life.

  • cynthia curran

    Not a shocker even in Red Counties like Placer or Orange County Ca teen births rates are below natonal average since the population has more money on average. In the OC though its stubborny high among hispanics kids at 37 percent versus 22 percent in the County. Hispanic kids have less acess to brith control than whites at 7 percent in the OC and Asians at 4 percent and Afro-Americans at 13 percent.

  • cynthia curran

    Although the teen pregnancy rate in the United States has declined in the past two decades, it remains far higher than in other industrialized countries. 3 out of 10 American girls become pregnant pregnant before they turn 20. U.S. teen births cost almost $10 billion annually in public assistance, health care and lost income, according to The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy in 2010.

    – See more at: http://www.breitbartunmasked.com/2014/10/04/shocker-free-contraceptions-dramatically-reduce-teen-pregnancies/#sthash.E8HE9rhF.dpuf

    Part of this is the Latino population which is high at 41 per 1,000 and poorer whites in some places of the south and the poor white states.

  • ORAXX

    But……..but…….but……giving teenagers the facts about sex, along with contraception, will promote promiscuity!! If you keep teenagers in the dark, it will never occur to them to have sex. (snark)

    • Jade

      Exactly! I don’t get why so many parents are so adamant about keeping their kids in the dark about sex. They are going to be curious about it, and it has nothing to do with being exposed to sex education in school. It is simply a natural curiosity thing that happens to everyone at that age. Why not give them the information they need to avoid unwanted pregnancies and potentially fatal diseases?

  • Dodie Peterson

    Parents who are not discussing these things and helping them to obtain birth control are criminally negligent, in my opinion. Whether you like it or not, this is the way the world is now. Give your child all the options they need to help them make good decisions.

  • Versinel

    So many people want to teach abstinence rather than safety. When I was in school I never understood this and I still don’t. No, I don’t think any parent wants their kid to be sexually active, but wouldn’t you want them to be safe rather than not safe?