Pregnancy More Likely for Rural Teens, Report Finds

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According to a report from the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, teen birth rates in rural regions of the United States are nearly a third higher than in the suburbs and urban areas.

The report, which used statistics provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health, evaluated teenage birth rate data from 2010.

Researchers found that rural females represented one-fifth of all teen births in the United States during the assessment period. Caucasian teens in rural areas were found to have birth rates there were almost twice as high as those living in urban centers. Birth rates for rural Hispanic teens were roughly 20 percent higher than among Hispanic girls living in cities. At a rate of 60 births per 1,000 teenagers, African-American teens living in rural areas reported only slightly higher rates of birth than urban black teens, who averaged 53 births per 1,000.

Total teen birth rates declined at different rates depending on locality, researchers found. Although birth rates for teen girls in urban areas decreased by nearly half since 1990, the birth rate in rural areas fell by just 32 percent during the same timeframe.

Researchers state that a litany of socioeconomic factors -- including income disparities, unemployment and scant health care access -- may play prominent roles in the elevated rates of teen pregnancy in rural environments.

“As the characteristics of the teen population vary based on level of urbanization, so do the characteristics of teen childbearing,” the report reads. “In fact, the teen birth rate increases steadily as the level of urbanization decreases.”