Mississippi Has Nation's Highest Teenage Pregnancy Average
April 11, 2012

Mississippi Has Nation’s Highest Teenage Pregnancy Average

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the teen pregnancy rate in Mississippi is the highest in the U.S.

The agency said Mississippi is more than 60 percent above the national average for teen pregnancies.

The state reported 55 births per 1,000 teens aged 15 to 19 in 2010, compared to the nation's lowest teen pregnancy rate of 15.7 births per 1,000 teens.

The CDC said teen birth rates were higher in the South and Southwest and lower in the Northeast and Upper Midwest.

The government agency also added that the Hispanic population and black population had the highest teen birth rates.

"The fact that states with high Hispanic populations still show declines speaks to the more general pattern of increasing contraceptive use and declining teen births," Laura Lindberg, a senior research associate with the non-profit Guttmacher Institute in New York, said in a statement to Sharon Jayson of USA Today.

According to a report by the CDC last fall, the U.S. teen birth rate dropped 9 percent from 2009 to 2010, reaching a historic low of 34.3 births per 1,000 teens age 15 to 19.

The rates fell at least 8 percent in 47 states from 2007 to 2010, the CDC said, with declines in 16 of those states ranging from 20 percent to 29 percent.  Teen births are at their lowest they have been in almost 70 years.

"In spite of these declines, the U.S. teen birth rate remains one of the highest among other industrialized countries," the CDC said in a statement.

The National Center for Health Statistics said the lower teen birth rate was due to "strong pregnancy prevention messages" and contraceptive use.

Lindberg said that contraceptive use the first time a girl has sex "has gone up dramatically" and the elimination of pelvic exams before prescribing birth control pills suggests teens are taking contraception seriously.

She also said that there has been a decline in the percentage of teenage girls "who said they wanted to get pregnant."

The CDC report said that without the decline in teen births since 1991, there would have been 3.4 million more babies born to teenage girls by 2010.