NC's Teen Pregnancy Rate Drops To Record Low For 9th Straight Year

Dec 13, 2017

North Carolina's teen pregnancy rate has reached a record low level for the ninth consecutive year, according for a report from the nonprofit adolescent health initiative Shift NC.

(Click here to see teen pregnancy rankings by county.)

North Carolina once had one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control. It peaked in 1990, with 10 percent of the state's 15-19 year-old girls getting pregnant in a year. National rates have been declining.

Shift NC reports that North Carolina's teen pregnancy rates are down 73 percent since 1990, and abortion rates have plummeted with it.

Spokeswoman Elizabeth Finley credits federal and state support in teen health education and pregnancy prevention programs.

"At this point, we're absolutely elated that we've had so much great progress with teen pregnancy in our state. But we also know that it's been built on really smart investments," Finley said.

"All of this progress has been built on this infrastructure of access to family planning programs, a good strong health education law, some smart spending at the federal and state levels for programming. And when we see those things threatened, all of this progress is obviously threatened."

The Trump administration has cut prevention program grants from the Office of Adolescent Health. Now, Congress is considering cuts to the Title X program, which offers affordable birth control and STD testing.

"It means that thousands of young people in our state, including thousands of young people who are extremely vulnerable to teen pregnancy -- so young people in foster care, young people who have been in juvenile detention centers -- aren't going to get the health education or support that they need to avoid a teen pregnancy."

Lawmakers have also increased funding for abstinence-only or "sexual risk avoidance" education, which has not been linked with effective pregnancy prevention.