Teen pregnancy rates in the US have hit a 40-year low, according to a new study.
However, black and Hispanic teens experiencing pregnancy and abortion rates two to four times higher than their white peers, according to the study by the Guttmacher Institute, the nonprofit sexual health research group that favors abortion rights.
And the abortion rate for black teens was found to be four times that of whites.
The Guttmacher researchers looked at government statistics on teenage sex, pregnancies and births, as well as the institute's own data on abortions for 2008, the most recent year the numbers were available, according to NewsCore.
They found the rate of pregnancies among 15- to 19-year-olds had dropped 42 percent from its peak 22 years ago, and to its lowest level since at least 1972, the year before the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade that established a woman's right to an abortion.
In 1990, Reuters reported, teen pregnancies peaked at 116.9 per 1,000 teen girls and women. However in 2008, there were 67.8 pregnancies per 1,000 women aged 15 to 19.
In total, nearly 750,000 American women under the age of 20 became pregnant in 2008 — 98 percent of them between the ages of 15 and 19.
Reuters quoted the researchers as saying the decline in teen birthrates was largely attributable to increased contraceptive use by teens of both genders.
"Teens are also using more effective forms of contraception," said Kathryn Kost, a Guttmacher Institute demographer who co-authored the analysis.
However, Kost cautioned: "The continued inequities among racial and ethnic minorities are cause for concern. It is time to redouble our efforts to ensure that all teens have access to the information and contraceptive services they need to prevent unwanted pregnancies."
The New York Times reported corresponding figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showing that between 2006 and 2010, the number of unmarried teenagers between the ages of 15 and 19 who reported having sex dropped below 50 percent.
However the paper pointed out that the data relied upon reporting by teens, whereas the Guttmacher study provided "hard facts."