The popular MTV TV shows called 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom appear to be contributing to declines in the U.S. teen birth rate according to new research released this week by economists at the University of Maryland and Wellesley College.  

16 and Pregnant is essentially a documentary series focusing on teen pregnancy. Each episode follows the life of a teenager as she navigates adolescence, growing pains, rebellion, and coming of age; all while dealing with being pregnant.  Teen Mom depicts a wide variety of challenges young mothers often face: marriage, relationships, family support, adoption, finances, graduating high school, starting college, getting or losing a job, and challenges they face moving out to create their own families. 

The Wellesley College study reports that the programs may be responsible for as much as 1/3 of the decline in teen births in the U.S. in the 18 months following the premiere of 16 and Pregnant in June 2009- which represents a 5.7% reduction in teen births.  The report and additional supplementary materials are available on the Wellesley College website. You can also read a New York Times story about the research.