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Teen pregnancy and abortion rates drop to new lows

Here’s some good news on the teen pregnancy front: Rates are continuing to fall, dropping 15 percent in two years, from 2008 to 2010, and down 51 percent from their 1990 peak, according to a report released Monday from the Guttmacher Institute, a non-profit reproductive health organization.

In 2010, about 614,000 pregnancies occurred among teenage women ages 15 to 19 — for a rate of 57.4 pregnancies per 1,000 women — which is about half the 1.3 million pregnancies that occured in 1990. The teen abortion rate declined 66 percent between its 1988 peak and 2010 (from 43.5 abortions per 1,000 to 14.7 per 1,000).


Massachusetts was among states with the lowest teen pregnancy rates: The state, along with Maine, was tied for fourth-lowest in the nation with a pregnancy rate of 37 per 1,000 women. New Hampshire had the lowest rate among states with 28 per 1,000 followed by Vermont with 32 per 1,000.

New Mexico had the highest teen pregnancy rate of 80 per 1,000 followed by Mississippi, Texas, and Arkansas.

While pregnancy rates dropped among older teens, more reported having sex, which the study authors said suggested improved contraceptive use and use of more effective methods.

“Other reports had already demonstrated sustained declines in births among teens in the past few years,” study leader Kathryn Kost said in a statement. “But now we know that this is due to the fact that fewer teens are becoming pregnant in the first place. It appears that efforts to ensure teens can access the information and contraceptive services they need to prevent unwanted pregnancies are paying off.”

Deborah Kotz can be reached at dkotz@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @debkotz2.