Numerous studies in the past year have brought good news about the state of teenage pregnancy in the U.S., especially in regards to African-American youth. Numbers have gone way down—record decreases, to be exact.
The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has just released a report, in fact, that states that 2013 hit an all-time low. According to their report, there were only 277,749 babies born to women under the age of 20. The number hasn’t been this low since 1940.
Even better news: While teens of color may still have higher rates of teen pregnancy than their white counterparts, the largest drops in teen birth rates were among Black and Latina teens. Between the years 1993 and 2012, the CDC found, Black teen pregnancy was down a whopping 63 percent overall.
Looking at state-by-state data, researchers saw some differences. Between 2007 and 2012, teenage birth rates fell below 20 percent in places such as Washington, D.C., and Michigan, while rates in 13 other states fell about 35 percent.
Latina teens had the largest drop in births between the years 2007 and 2012, with a 39 percent decrease.
So what are teens of color doing differently?
The CDC believes that more and more young women are using hormonal birth control methods, from pills to IUDs; engaging with fewer sexual partners; and partaking in less-risky sexual behavior. Also, increased access to health clinics that offer abortions may play a role in the drop in teens giving birth.
While this study underscores the importance of having access to birth control and what that means in the lives of young women, the pill isn’t a be-all, end-all when it comes to Black women’s health. Hormonal contraception does not protect you from HIV/AIDS and STDs, two epidemics that we disproportionately face.
So what you can do to protect yourself from every angle? Double up: Use condoms and take a form of a hormonal contraception to ensure that your reproductive health is getting Fort Knox protection.
Learn more about every form of contraception here.
Follow Kellee on Twitter @kelleent
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