The number of teenagers having sex is lower than any time in the last 25 years, at the same time that the use of condoms has risen and teen pregnancy rates have fallen.
According to a new study by the Centers for Disease Control, less than half of teens between 15 and 19 say they’ve had sex, and teen births have declined by 57 percent over the last 30 years.
The figures are being hailed as good news by health providers who say they are a positive step toward better health outcomes for adolescents.
Dr. Frank Biro, director of research at the Adolescent and Transition Medicine Center at Cincinnati Children's Hospital, talked with Here & Now's Jeremy Hobson about what the statistics mean and why the numbers are dropping.
"I think that there's a number of different reasons, part and parcel is there's been the development of much more effective programs," Biro said. "We've been developing programs, we've been evaluating their effectiveness, and although they don't have a huge amount of impact on an individual, I think that the impact on society as a whole is much greater, since it's only a little bit for one but it's a lot for a lot of people."
While many have laughed off the idea that the low numbers are the product of teenagers being immersed in their smartphones, Biro said there's some truth to that idea.
"I think that is probably part of the answer as well. The adolescents of today are so much more tech savvy," he said. "They know how to access credible information, and they've been doing so. So they've been going to websites that tell them about issues around sexual involvement, about choosing when to become sexually involved, about the rates of infection and effective methods to decrease the rates of pregnancy, as well as avoid these infections."
- Frank Biro, director of research at the Adolescent and Transition Medicine Center at Cincinnati Children's Hospital.
This segment aired on July 23, 2015.