CDC Study Reveals Sex Education Offered Too Late For Teen Girls

Apr 10, 2014 11:39 AM EDT | By Dina Exil

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"Timing is everything" is a true statement--especially when it comes to educating teens about sex. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), sex education is being offered too late for teenage girls.

In a recent study among the girls who were sexually experienced, 83 percent admitted that they did not get formal sex education until after losing their virginity and becoming sexually active.

About 91 percent of young women aged 15 to 17 said they have taken a formal sex education class that discussed birth control. Seventy-six percent discussed information about birth control or ways to stay abstinent with their parents. CDC encourages authority figures, like parents and teachers, to speak to teens.

Nine out of 10 teens claim to have used a form of contraception the last time they had intercourse. Condoms and birth control pills were among the most popular methods of contraception. Researchers stated that the information "represents a missed opportunity to introduce medically accurate information."

In 2012, the birth rate per 1,000 teens was 25.5 percent for Hispanic teens; 21.9 percent for non-Hispanic black teens; 17 percent for American Indian/Alaska Native teens; 8.4 percent for non-Hispanic white teens; and 4.1 percent for Asian/Pacific Islander teens.

"Although we have made significant progress reducing teen pregnancy, far too many teens are still having babies," Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the CDC, said in a statement. "Births to younger teens pose the greatest risk of poor medical, social and economic outcomes. Efforts to prevent teen childbearing need to focus on evidence-based approaches to delaying sexual activity and increasing use of the most effective methods of contraception for those teens who are sexually active."

Despite the decline in teen birth rates over the past two decades, a recent study has stated that too many girls under the age of 18 are still getting pregnant.Girls between 15 and 17-years old still give birth to 1,700 babies per week or 86,423 per year. According to the CDC, the number accounts for a quarter of teen births. For the report, the CDC used data from the National Survey of Family Growth.

"There have been noted declines in births to teens, and that's good news," Ileana Arias, principal deputy director of the CDC, said, according to NBC. "However, we can't be complacent when we hear about these declines. We still need to make more progress in reducing health disparities and the public health burden related to teen pregnancies and births. Younger teens still account for one in four teen births."

A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) news release stated that teen birth comes with consequences such as "medical risks and emotional, social, and financial costs." Teen birth can also decrease the chances of an individual graduating college.

"We can't be complacent when we hear about these declines in teen pregnancies and births. We still need to make more progress in reducing health disparities and the public health burden related to teen pregnancies and births," Arias said. "Pregnancy or birth could interfere with finishing high school and possibly leading to negative educational, occupational and economic and health trajectories."

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