(WASHINGTON) — Nationally the teen birth rate continues to decline, but a look inside the numbers shows nearly one of every five teen mothers has given birth not once, but two or even three or more times.
“It’s surprising that this many teens that have given birth once, give birth again,” Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told ABC News.
The CDC’s Vital Signs report, released Tuesday, found that minority teens — those between the ages of 15 and 19 — are more likely to have repeat births, and the prevalence is greatest in the South.
“We are seeing higher rates of repeat teen pregnancy in some of the racial and ethnic minority groups, and we are seeing higher rates in lower income groups,” Frieden said.
American Indian/Alaska natives accounted for the most repeat teen births, followed by Hispanics and non-Hispanic blacks. Non-Hispanic whites accounted for the lowest number of repeat teen births, according to the CDC report.
Frieden said there is a direct link between repeat births and lack of access to protection. “What we need to do is increase their access to effective contraception,” he said.
“The fact that nearly 1 in 5 births to teens is a repeat birth is both a warning sign that we need to increase access, but it is also really a sign post that we can make more progress.”
The study also found that after giving birth the first time, only about one in five sexually active teen moms use “the most effective types” of birth control.
Approximately 183 repeat teen births occur every day in the U.S., according to the report.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Jackie Wattles, CNN