Birth and abortion rates among U.S. teens fell to record lows in 2008 as increased use of contraceptives sent the overall teen pregnancy rate to its lowest level since at least 1972, a new study shows.
Researchers at the Guttmacher Institute looked at government statistics on teen-age sex, pregnancies and births, as well as the institute's own data on abortions for 2008, the most recent year for which all the numbers were available.
They found that nearly 750,000 U.S. women under the age of 20 became pregnant in 2008 -- nearly 98 percent of them between the ages of 15 and 19.
That translated into a pregnancy rate of 67.8 pregnancies per 1,000 women aged 15 to 19, the researchers said, the lowest pregnancy rate seen since 1972. It was also down 42 percent from 1990, when teen pregnancies peaked at 116.9 per 1,000 teen girls and women.
The teen abortion rate in 2008 dropped to the lowest rate seen since 1972 at 17.8 per 1,000 teen girls and women, the analysis found, and was down 59 percent from 1988 when the abortion rate peaked at 43.5 per 1,000 teen women.
The Guttmacher researchers said the decline in teen birthrates was largely attributable to increased contraceptive use by teens of both genders.