Academic journal article The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality

Trends in Canadian National and Provincial/territorial Teen Pregnancy Rates: 2001-2010

Academic journal article The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality

Trends in Canadian National and Provincial/territorial Teen Pregnancy Rates: 2001-2010

Article excerpt

Abstract: Trends in teen pregnancy rates are a key indicator of young women's sexual and reproductive health and overall well-being. Previously available published data on teen pregnancy rates for Canada included the years 1974 to 2006. The current study extends these data by calculating teen pregnancy rates at the provincial/territorial and national levels for the years 2007 to 2010. For analytical purposes, teen pregnancy rate trend data were generated for the periods 2001 to 2010, 2001 to 2005, and 2006 to 2010. From 2001 to 2010, the Canadian teen pregnancy rate declined by 20.3%. During the period 2006 to 2010, the national teen pregnancy rate increased by 1.1% and in four provinces the rate increased by 15.1% or more (New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Manitoba). Longer-term (1990 to 2010) trend data indicates that the teen pregnancy rate in Canada increased 4.9% from 1990 to 1994, then declined in each consecutive year to 2006, a decrease of 40.8%, and then increased slightly from 2006 to 2010. The overall teen pregnancy rate in Canada remains significantly lower than in the United States and in England and Wales where rates have also fallen since 2001. Abortion rate data for Canada are subject to a number of limitations. A particular limitation of this study is that teen pregnancy rate calculations were affected by the underreporting of abortions in some settings and the lack of precise age-related data on abortions conducted in some parts of Canada. For the current study, adjustments were made to the British Columbia clinic abortion data to compensate for underreporting. Imputation methods previously used to calculate teen pregnancy rates in Canada were employed when age data on clinic abortions were not available. The findings are discussed in relation to effective policies and programs to reduce unwanted teen pregnancy that include a focus on youth development and socioeconomic factors, access to effective contraception, and broadly-based sexual health education.

Introduction

Trends in teenage pregnancy rates are an important indicator of young women's sexual and reproductive health and overall well-being (Darroch, Frost, Singh & Study Group, 2001; Gavin et al., 2009; Kearney & Levine, 2012; Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, 2008; SIECCAN, 2004). At a proximal level, tracking teen pregnancy rates can provide an indication of changing levels of effective contraceptive use among sexually active young women and their partners. In turn, levels of effective contraceptive use among young women are determined by factors such as access to effective and affordable contraception, reproductive health services, and to high-quality sexual health education. At a broader distal level, trends in teen pregnancy rates can also reflect shifts in population composition and community socio-cultural norms and values related to adolescent sexuality and teenage childbearing. In addition, trends in teen pregnancy and childbearing are important indicators of the economic status of young women in that teen pregnancy rates are partially determined by young women's perceived and actual economic opportunities. Given that trends in teen pregnancy are a key indicator of the sexual and reproductive health and overall well-being of young women in Canada, up-to-date teen pregnancy trend data is important information for educators, service providers, and policy makers at the provincial/ territorial and national levels.

From 1974, when Statistics Canada first began disseminating teen pregnancy data, to 1999, the combined birth and abortion rate per 1,000 women aged 15 to 19 fell from 49.6 to 39.1, a decline of 21.2% (Statistics Canada, n.d.a., CANSIM Table 106-9002). The teen pregnancy rate in Canada had thus declined substantially during the last quarter of the 20th century (McKay, 2006). That downward trend continued into the early 2000s (McKay & Barrett, 2010) but at present there are no published Canadian teen pregnancy rates for 2007-2010. …

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