HEALTH

CDC: Teen pregnancy down in latest figures

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(WJLA) - Rebekah Brown had just finished her freshman year at an out-of-state college when she learned that she was pregnant.

“I was disappointed in myself,” she says. “I just felt like everything came to a halt then.”

The discovery left her with no choice but to put her plans on hold and return home:

“I think having a child requires a lot of sacrifices. It’s real life and it’s hard; it’s manageable, but it’s hard. Take time to enjoy life and be yourself, don’t be in a rush to grow up.”

And it seems that more teens are hearing that message loud and clear.

According to a preliminary report from the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, birth rates among teens aged 15-19 have gone down as much as 10-percent in the latest figures (2012-2013).

"That's quite amazing when you look at previous years," says Brady Hamilton, a statistician with the National Center for Health Statistics." Since 2000, we've seen declines of six to eight to 10-percent, which is really outstanding compared to prior years when we'd seen declines of two, maybe three-percent or often one-percent."

The report also shows that the birth rate went from 29.4 births per 1,000 women in 2012 in that age group to 26.6 in 2013 – a record low in the U.S.

Dr. Jennifer Lesko, an assistant professor at GWU's School of Medicine and Health Sciences in the department of obstetrics and gynecology, credits some of this to increased awareness and a rise in long-acting reversible contraceptive use:

"The nice thing about that is those methods are forgettable and patients and teens don't have to remember to take a pill everyday. They have less side effects and really, those are huge reasons why I think we're seeing some differences in these numbers."

But it still does happen unexpectedly, like it did for Nyla Roy when she was just 15 years old:

"If I could've waited -- yeah prob -- until after I graduated college and settled down a little bit more."

Teens who are now trying to get their lives back on track hope other young girls won’t wait to ask for help.

"You're not alone, there's plenty of resources out there, so take the initiative and receive it," says Rebekah Brown.

These teens we sat down with for this report told us they are now going back to school and trying to get a college degree. They are clients of the Healthy Baby Project. a non-profit organization that helps provide resources for pregnant teens so they can finish high school or continue their college education.

This is the preliminary data for 2013 – the final report is due out in the next couple of months. To access the full report, click here (password: Week_of_May26).

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