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Report: Minnesota teen pregnancy rates at historic lows

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Pregnancy rates among state teens ages 15 to 19 fell by two-thirds from 1990 to 2014, and teen birth rates have followed the trend, the University of Minnesota said Wednesday.

Researchers said adolescent teen pregnancy and birth rates had fallen to historic lows since 1990, with the numbers plummeting since 2000. In that year, there were 41.4 pregnancies per 1,000 Minnesotans ages 15 to 19. By 2014, that rate had been nearly cut in half to 22.2.

The drop was driven by dramatic decreases in rates among Minnesota's adolescent populations of color, mirroring national trends, the university said in its latest report on adolescent sexual health.

The data are a "testament to the wise and healthy decisions young people are making about their sexual health," said Jill Farris, director of adolescent sexual health training and education at the U's Healthy Youth Development — Prevention Research Center.

Still, researchers cautioned that not all was well and that sexually transmitted diseases remain a concern.

While the report showed chlamydia rates stable and gonorrhea rates continuing to decline after jumping in 2012 and 2013, sexually transmitted diseases remain "widespread throughout the state."

They remain disproportionately high for teens of color in Minnesota. Compared to white adolescent teens, "the gonorrhea rate is 33 times higher for black youth and 11 times higher for American Indian youth," the report said.

Researchers noted that abuse, neglect, witnessing crime, parental substance abuse and other traumatic events can create "dangerous levels of stress" that disrupt healthy development and increase the likelihood of teen sex and pregnancy.