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US abstinence-only programmes linked to rise in teen pregnancies

A report reveals that the rate of US teenagers giving birth rose for the first time in 14 years, while campaign groups blame abstinence-only programmes

A recent report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has revealed that the rate of US teenagers giving birth rose for the first time in 14 years.

Between 2005 and 2006, teen births jumped three per cent, or an extra 20,000 births.

According to US media reports, campaign groups, such as Planned Parenthood and Advocates for Youth, have blamed the Bush administrationís USD 1bn abstinence-only education programme.

The groups contend that since the programmes are not allowed to offer information about contraception, teens are entering into sexual relationships without basic knowledge about protecting themselves from pregnancy.

The CDC report reveals that the age group with the highest jump in pregnancy rates was the oldest teens: 18 and 19-year-olds rose four per cent, while 15-to-17-year-olds rose three per cent. The 10-to-14-year-old group fell from 0.7 to 0.6 per 1,000 births.

The CDC report has made no conclusions as yet, but in a press release, spokesperson Stephanie Ventura warned that a one-year jump is not enough to suggest a full-blown trend. Carol Hogue, an Emory University professor of maternal and child health, told Associated Press that the jump was expected, however.

Hogue said that teen pregnancy rates and the rise in sexually transmitted diseases in the US, such as syphilis, gonorrhoea and chlamydia are all part of the same phenomenon. She also blamed abstinence-only health education programmes, which, she says, have produced a generation of teenagers who do not understand contraception.

10th December 2007

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