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More teens are saying no to sex outside of marriage, and that fact is the primary reason for the drop in teen birth and pregnancy rates in recent years.

The peer-reviewed study, just published in the journal Adolescent and Family Health, flies in the face of previous reports attributing the decline to increased use of contraception.

The report cited abstinence as the No. 1 factor in recent drops in the teen pregnancy rate.


Overall, the study found that 100 percent of the drop in birthrates and 67 percent of the drop in pregnancy rates could be attributed to single teens heeding the message of abstinence education.

Joanna Mohn, M.D., the study's principal researcher, said previous research crediting condom use with the declines was flawed. Mohn contends those studies did not account for significant statistics and factors, such as a distinction between married and unmarried teenage girls as well as teen girls who had not been sexually involved for over a year.

The new study shows the factors making the greatest contribution to the decline in overall 15- to 19-year-old birth and pregnancy rates were an increase in abstinence and a decrease in the percentage of married teens.

In 1991, the teen birthrate was 62 births per 1,000 girls. By 1995, the birthrate had dropped to 50 births per 1,000 girls. The pregnancy rate per 1,000 girls dropped from 116 to 93 during the same period.

"It is time for pro-condom advocacy groups to stop lying to the public about the real reason we are seeing such a sharp decline in teen birth and pregnancy rates," said Peter Brandt, Director of Issues Response for Focus on the Family.

"Abstinence has always been the only sure-fire way to prevent pregnancy and teens are proving they have outsmarted adults on this one. This study should be an incentive to every member of Congress to vote for the most effective prevention program for our teens – abstinence education."

The Welfare Reform Act of 1996, which included $50 million per year for abstinence education, expired last year and its renewal will be up for debate in Congress soon. Study/related documents (Adobe Acrobat) [ Focus on the Family; 14Apr03]