It's no secret that teen pregnancy rates in West Virginia are one of the highest in the country. But a new study finds that sexual activity is actually rare among young adolescents.
"I think that it's definitely a positive thing to see right now, because I know a lot of people think it's climbing. But according the study, adolescents are not as sexually active as we assumed that they were," said Mary-Ann Kroll, M.D., Pediatrics Associates.
It's safe to say that in this day and age, many parents believe that adolescents are more sexually active than in the past. But a new report in the April issue of Pediatrics says that belief is greatly exaggerated. It finds that among both boys and girls, less than one percent of 10-year-olds, about one percent of 11-year-olds, and a little more than two percent of 12-year-olds have had sex. The study also finds the number of pregnancies among girls 12 and under is "minuscule". But pediatricians say don't let those numbers fool you.
"As we know and see, especially in this state, teen pregnancy is prevalent," said Dr. Kroll.
West Virginia has one of the highest rates of teen pregnancy in the country. While the report shows sexual activity is rare among 10 to 12-year-olds, sexual activity is still common among older teens. Pediatricians say opinions on how and when to talk to teens about sex remain divided.
"I think it depends on the parent and the teen's relationship. But, I think that's what is important, to keep the lines of communication open," said Dr. Kroll.
Overall, the report shows a trend "going in the right direction". Teens are waiting longer to have sex, using contraceptives more often when they start having sex and are less likely to become pregnant than teens in past decades.