According to a report released on Wednesday by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), teen pregnancy rates in the state have dropped nearly 60 percent and are currently at a 20-year low.
The report showed that the number of teenage pregnancies in California went from 70.9 births for every 1,000 teens (ages 15-19) in 1991 to 28 births per 1,000 teens in 2011. Experts attribute the decrease to new laws in the state regarding public school sexual education programs. The adjusted sexual education classes are now more comprehensive and include expanded, scientifically-based information regarding birth control methods.
“We do believe that our programs are behind these numbers,” said Karen Ramstrom, chief of the program standards branch at the CDPH maternal child and adolescent health division, in an interview with the Los Angeles Times.
Ron Chapman, director of the CDPH, explained further. “California’s innovative strategies and community partnerships aimed at lowering teen pregnancy are helping young women and men make responsible choices,” he said in a press release. “We must not be complacent; we must continue to promote teen pregnancy prevention programs and strategies in all communities.”
California’s numbers are somewhat reflective of national decreases in teen pregnancy rates. Overall, NBC’s Today Health reported that national teen birth rates have dropped by nearly half in the last decade.