Teenage girls in the United States are waiting longer to begin having sex — and using more dependable forms of birth control once they do become sexually active, researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Thursday.
New survey findings could shed light on why the birth rate among girls ages 15 to 19 in the U.S. has declined to record lows in recent years. In 2010, the teen birth rate was 34.3 births per thousand, with fewer babies born to teenage mothers than in any year since 1946, the CDC reported this April.
The new data were published Thursday in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report and were compiled from National Survey of Family Growth surveys in 1995, 2002 and 2006-2010. The survey sample included males and females ages 15 to 44 and included questions about sexual activity and contraceptive use.
From 2006 to 2010, the CDC researchers reported in their article, 57% of females 15 to 19 had never had sex, up from 49% in 1995. When broken down among white, black and Latino girls, the proportion who remained virgins did not differ significantly among racial and ethnic groups. There were differences in experience when the data were sliced by age group. Among teens 15 to 17, 73% had not had sex; among older teenage girls, only 36% had not.