The Critical Link: Preventing Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy
The teen pregnancy rate is down nearly 40 percent and the teen birth rate cut by one-third since the early 1990s. That is why the recent news that teen pregnancy is now on the rise is so sobering, says this author. The increase is particularly steep among older teens (those ages 18-19), a group that has traditionally had the highest rate of teen pregnancy. In this article, the author examines what can be done to reverse these trends. She starts with a look at why so many teens and young adults are getting pregnant and starting families when they say they are not ready. She also discusses links between early and unplanned pregnancy and poverty, Medicaid, TANF, and child welfare. Then she suggests steps that can be taken to reduce unplanned pregnancy among teens and young adults, which will, in turn, help improve child and family well-being. She focuses on ways to ensure that providers who care for young adults are well trained in family planning, aware of the full range of contraceptíve methods nowavailable, comfortable providing them to their patients, and devoting sufficient time to counseling about pregnancy planning and prevention.