Northern New England Has the Lowest Teen Pregnancy Rates in the Country

Teenage pregnancy, birth rates, and abortion rates have all dropped, according to a new report by the Guttmacher Institute.

Sometimes being last in a rankings list is a good thing. And in the case of teen pregnancy rates, New England is as low as you can get.

According to new research released Monday by the Guttmacher Institute, a nonprofit organization focused on reproductive health, the teenage pregnancy rate in the U.S. has dropped 51 percent between 1990 and 2010. In 2010, the rate of pregnancies per 1,000 teenage girls and women 15 to 19 was 57.4, which represents a drop of 15 percent since the last time it was reported in 2008. The report also says that the teenage pregnancy rate, birth rate, and abortion rate have all dropped sharply since its peak in the 1990s.

Out of the 50 states, Maine and Massachusetts tied with a ranking of 47th. Both states had 37 pregnancies for every 1,000 teens, followed by Minnesota (36/1,000), Vermont (32/1,000), and coming in last (well, best) at number 50 with the lowest rate is New Hampshire (28/1,000). (Darn Minnesota messing up the quadfecta.)

The state with the most teen pregnancies? New Mexico, with a whopping 80 pregnancies for every 1,000 teens, followed by Mississippi (76/1,000), and Texas (73/1,000).

Most teenage pregnancies occur in older teens, according to the report:

Pregnancy remains more common among older teens than younger ones, with 69 percent of teen pregnancies occurring among 18- to 19-year-olds, according to the report. Older teens were more likely than younger ones to report having ever had sex, but a smaller percentage of those who are older and have sex become pregnant, likely due to increased and more effective contraceptive use.

“The decline in the teen pregnancy rate is great news,” says study leader Kathryn Kost of the Guttmacher Institute in a statement. “Other reports had already demonstrated sustained declines in births among teens in the past few years; but now we know that this is due to the fact that fewer teens are becoming pregnant in the first place.”

The researchers say that the variation among races and states likely “results, in part, from differences in demographics, the availability of comprehensive sex education, the knowledge and availability of contraception, and cultural attitudes toward sex and early childbearing.”