Abstract and Introduction
Approximately 400,000 teens aged 15–19 years give birth every year in the United States, and the teen birth rate remains the highest in the developed world. Teen childbearing is a public health concern because teen mothers are more likely to experience negative social outcomes, including school dropout. In addition, infants of teen mothers are more likely to be low birth weight and have lower academic achievement, and daughters of teen mothers are more likely to become teen mothers themselves.[4–6] To learn why teens wishing to avoid pregnancy become pregnant, CDC analyzed data from the 2004–2008 Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS). This report describes estimated rates of self-reported prepregnancy contraceptive use among white, black, and Hispanic teen females aged 15–19 years with unintended pregnancies resulting in live births. Approximately one half (50.1%) of these teens were not using any method of birth control when they got pregnant, and of these, nearly one third (31.4%) believed they could not get pregnant at the time; 21.0% used a highly effective contraceptive method (although less than 1% used one of the most effective methods, such as an intrauterine device [IUD]); 24.2% used the moderately effective method of condoms; and 5.1% used the least effective methods, such as rhythm and withdrawal. To decrease teen birth rates, efforts are needed to reduce or delay the onset of sexual activity, provide factual information about the conditions under which pregnancy can occur, increase teens' motivation and negotiation skills for pregnancy prevention, improve access to contraceptives, and encourage use of more effective contraceptive methods.
The PRAMS surveillance system collects state-specific, population-based data on maternal attitudes and experiences before, during, and shortly after pregnancy. Thirty-seven states and New York City participate in the system, which covers approximately 75% of all live births in the United States. The PRAMS system employs a standardized data collection protocol, sampling women 2–6 months after they deliver a live infant. Women are selected based on a stratified sampling scheme applied to birth certificates each month. The mixed-mode data collection methodology includes mail questionnaires with telephone follow-up. PRAMS data are weighted for sample design, nonresponse, and noncoverage using the official population data provided by vital statistics agencies in the participating states. The CDC PRAMS protocol specifies that officially published data must meet or exceed minimum weighted response rates of 70% for years 2004–2006 and 65% for years 2007–2008. Weighted prevalences, trend tests, and percentage contrasts are calculated using statistical software to account for the complex sampling design.
PRAMS surveys include core questions for all state surveys, plus optional standard and state-developed questions. All respondents were asked the following core questions: "Thinking back to just before you got pregnant with your new baby, how did you feel about becoming pregnant?" Participants who responded "I wanted to be pregnant later" or "I didn't want to be pregnant then or at any time in the future" were classified as having an unintended pregnancy. Participants also were asked, "When you got pregnant with your new baby, were you or your husband or partner doing something to keep from getting pregnant?" Participants who reported not doing anything to keep from getting pregnant were then asked, "What were your or your husband's or partner's reasons for not doing anything to keep from getting pregnant?" This report includes data on nonuse of contraception and reasons for nonuse from the 19 states that achieved the required minimum weighted response rate for all 5 years, representing approximately 30% of all teen U.S. live births: Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Utah, Washington, and West Virginia.
For participants who reported doing something to keep from getting pregnant, six reporting states asked the standard question, "When you got pregnant with your new baby, what were you or your husband or partner doing to keep from getting pregnant?" Response options for 13 specific contraceptive methods were presented with instructions to "check all that apply." For the purposes of this study, contraceptive methods were categorized by effectiveness based on published effectiveness rates for preventing pregnancy in typical use. Highly effective contraceptive methods included sterilization, IUD, injectable medroxyprogesterone (sold as Depo Provera and also known as the birth control shot), oral contraceptives, hormonal patch, and vaginal ring. The moderately effective category included condoms. The least effective category included diaphragm, cervical cap, contraceptive sponge, rhythm method, and withdrawal. This report includes contraceptive methods data from five states that achieved the required minimum weighted response rate for all 5 years, covering approximately 8% of all teen U.S. live births: Colorado, Michigan, Minnesota, Oregon, and Utah.
Weighted results were calculated within the PRAMS subpopulations of non-Hispanic white, non-Hispanic black, and Hispanic teen females (aged 15–19 years) who delivered a live infant and reported that their pregnancy was unintended. During 2004–2008, 73.2% (95% confidence interval [CI] = 71.9%–74.5%) of teen mothers within 19 PRAMS states who delivered a live infant reported that their pregnancy was unintended. Of these, approximately one half (50.1%; CI = 48.3%–52.0%) reported not using any method of contraception before getting pregnant. In 2004, 50.4% (CI = 46.6%–54.3%) of the teen mothers reported not using contraception; this rate remained stable until 2007, when it dropped to 45.2% (CI = 40.8%–49.8%), then rose in 2008 to 55.0% (CI = 50.8%–59.2%) (Figure). A test for linear trend found no significant change over the 5-year period.
Percentage of teen mothers aged 15–19 years with unintended pregnancies resulting in live births who reported no contraceptive use before pregnancy — 19 states* participating in Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS), 2004–2008
* Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Utah, Washington, and West Virginia.
† 95% confidence interval.
During 2004–2008, the rates of not using birth control among surveyed non-Hispanic white teens (49.7% [CI = 47.1%–52.3%]), non-Hispanic black teens (50.5% [CI = 46.9%–54.1%]), and Hispanic teens (50.6% [CI = 46.9%–54.2%]) were not significantly different. Teens not using contraception reported their reasons for nonuse. Many teens held misconceptions (e.g., 31.4% thought they could not get pregnant at the time, and 8.0% thought they, their husbands, or their partners were sterile) (Table 1). Nearly one quarter (23.6%) reported that their partner did not want to use contraception. Some teens (22.2% of respondents) indicated that they would not mind if they got pregnant. Other reasons included lack of access (13.1% reported having trouble getting birth control) and experiencing side effects from contraception (9.4%). Reasons for nonuse of contraception did not vary substantially by age, race, or ethnicity. However, Hispanic teens were more likely to report that they did not use contraception because they thought they could not get pregnant at the time (42.0%) than both non-Hispanic white (26.7%) and non-Hispanic black (31.9%) teens (p<0.001). Furthermore, Hispanic teens were less likely (4.2%) than non-Hispanic white (9.8%) and non-Hispanic black (12.2%) teens to report avoiding contraceptives because of side effects (p<0.001). Finally, older teens were more likely to report nonuse because of side effects of contraception (10.8%) than younger teens (6.8%) (p<0.01).
In the five states reporting contraceptive methods, 21.0% of teens reported using a highly effective method when they got pregnant, less than one quarter (24.2%) used a moderately effective method, and few teens (5.1%) used the least effective methods (Table 2). Non-Hispanic black teens were significantly less likely to use highly effective methods of birth control (14.1%) compared with non-Hispanic white (23.0%; p<0.01) and Hispanic (20.4%; p<0.05) teens. The rates of contraceptive nonuse within the subset of five states (49.6%) were similar to the rates within the 19 states (50.1%).
Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. 2012;61(2):25-29. © 2012 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)