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Fewer teenage girls have sex, and more of those that do are using effective contraception, said U.S. researchers who are urging medical professionals and schools to provide more counseling.
In 2010, 57 percent of female teens ages 15 through 19 had never had vaginal intercourse, an increase from 49 percent in 1995, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a study published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Among those who were sexually active, 60 percent reported using the most-effective contraceptive methods such as hormonal birth control or intrauterine devices, compared to 47 percent in the earlier study.
The birth rate for teenagers was at its lowest ever in 2010, a previous report found. That’s probably due to the increased abstinence and higher use of the more effective contraception, today’s study said. Even with the decline, the U.S. has one of the highest birth rates for teenagers in industrialized countries.
“Teen pregnancy might be reduced further if health-care professionals provide culturally competent, evidence-based sexual and reproductive health counseling on the importance of correct and consistent use of contraception,” the authors of the report wrote.
To decrease teen pregnancy further, schools and communities should provide reproductive health education, support parents in speaking to children about delaying sex and pregnancy, and connect teenagers to reproductive health services, the CDC said.
Condoms, the method used by many teens, aren’t used on a consistent basis by half of the girls surveyed, the report said. Condoms are popular because they don’t require a visit to the doctor.
The Atlanta-based CDC has a goal of reducing teen pregnancy by 10 percent by 2020, the report said.
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