Birth and abortion rates among U.S. teens fell to record lows in 2008 as increased use of contraceptives sent the overall teen pregnancy rate to its lowest level since at least 1972, a study showed on Wednesday.

But disparities among racial and ethnic groups continued to persist, with black and Hispanic teens experiencing pregnancy and abortion rates two to four times higher than their white peers, the Guttmacher Institute, the nonprofit sexual health research group that conducted the analysis, said.

The Guttmacher researchers looked at government statistics on teen-age sex, pregnancies and births, as well as the institute’s own data on abortions for 2008, the most recent year for which all the numbers were available.

They found that nearly 750,000 U.S. women under the age of 20 became pregnant in 2008 — nearly 98 percent of them between the ages of 15 and 19.

That translated into a pregnancy rate of 67.8 pregnancies per 1,000 women aged 15 to 19, the researchers said, the lowest pregnancy rate seen since 1972, the year before the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade that established a woman’s right to an abortion.

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