Hispanics Pose Risk to Teen-Birth Drop

Cheryl Wetzstein, Washington Times, Mar, 28

The nation’s fast-growing Hispanic teen population could end declining teen birthrates, says a researcher who calls for more Hispanic-oriented teen-pregnancy prevention programs.

The national teen birthrate, fueled by declines in all ethnic groups, dropped by 33 percent between 1991 and 2003. The latest rate is fewer than 42 births per 1,000 teens.

But Hispanic teens—especially Mexicans and Puerto Ricans—are maintaining relatively high pregnancy and birthrates, said Child Trends researcher Suzanne Ryan, co-author of a recent paper on Hispanic teens.

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“Hispanic teens who are in sexual relationships often do not use contraception—or even talk about using it,” said Ms. Ryan, noting that 31 percent of sexually experienced Hispanic teens say they “never use” birth control. Also, 25 percent of Hispanic teenage girls say they would be “pleased” if they were to “become pregnant now.” Only 13 percent of all teenage girls chose that response.

The sheer numbers of Hispanic teens will soon make them a force to be reckoned with, said Ms. Ryan. Hispanics make up about 17 percent of the U.S. teen population; by 2025, they will make up 24 percent.

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