HealthBeat

HealthBeat

Washington mid-pack with teen pregnancy rates

Washington’s teen pregnancy rate ranks No. 33 in the country.

In Washington, there were 49 births per 1,000 women ages 15 to 19, according to the “American Teens’ Sexual and Reproductive Health” report issued this month by Guttmacher Institute.

New Mexico has the highest teen pregnancy rate – 80 per 1,000 women – and New Hampshire has the lowest (28 per 1,000). Oregon ranked No. 37 with 47 births per 1,000 women, according to the report.

(For a complete list of teen birth rates by state, check out this article on LiveScience.)

Teen birth rates have been on the decline for years.

The 2011 national rate of 31 births per 1,000 women 15 to 19 years old marked a 50 percent decline from the peak rate of 62 reached in 1991, according to the report.

The 334,000 births among women 19 or younger in 2011 represented 8 percent of all U.S. births.

In addition to pregnancy rates, the report looked at sexual activity among teens.

On average, young people have sex for the first time at about age 17, but they do not marry until their mid-20s. That means young adults may be at increased risk for unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections for nearly a decade or longer, according to the report.

Although 15- to 24-year-olds represent only a quarter of the sexually active population, they account for nearly half (9.1 million) of the 18.9 million new cases of sexually transmitted infections each year.

Human papillomavirus (HPV) infections account for about half of the sexually transmitted infections diagnosed among that population each year.

For more, check out the report.

Marissa Harshman

I'm the health reporter for The Columbian newspaper in Vancouver, Wash. I started at The Columbian -- my hometown newspaper -- in September 2009. Reach me at marissa.harshman@columbian.com or 360-735-4546.

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