Birmingham News (03.18.12) - Thursday, March 29, 2012
In Alabama and across the United States, teen pregnancy rates
have dropped sharply since peaking in the early 1990s.
According to a recent report from the Guttmacher Institute,
there were 67.8 births per 1,000 US females ages 15-19 in
2008, the lowest level recorded in almost 40 years. Experts
cite various factors for the decline.
A 2007 study by public health researcher Dr. John Santelli
said three-quarters of the decline in pregnancy risk among
girls 15-17 resulted from improvements in contraceptive use,
including the use of multiple methods. About one-quarter of
the decline is credited to a drop in sexual activity among
But Alabama and the South still trail the rest of the nation
in the sexual health of young people, says a new study by the
Auburn University at Montgomery (AUM) Center for Demographic
Research. It recommends that the goals of sex education
include delaying sexual activity; reducing the frequency of
sexual activity; reducing the number of partners and/or
increasing use of condoms and other contraceptives.
"The good news is a majority of people are in support of
teaching age-appropriate, medically accurate sex education in
schools," said Yanyi Djamba, a report co-author and AUM center
Dr. Tom Miller, deputy director for medical affairs at the
Alabama Department of Public Health, said he advocates for the
use of condoms in addition to other contraception, since
hormonal contraception alone will not protect against HIV or
"We counsel teens on the importance of abstinence until they
are ready to make decisions," said Miller, who was formerly a
practicing obstetrician. "We're not promoting sexual activity
in teens. But for those involved in sexual activity, it is
equally important to know methods of contraception."