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The popularity of MTV’s 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom series is still going strong and now, a new study is proving that the show’s influence on teen pregnancy is bigger than you think.

According to a new study by the National Bureau of Economic Research obtained by the New York Times, the programs reduced teen pregnancy by 6 percent in 2009 at the height of its popularity.

“It’s thrilling,” said Sarah S. Brown, the chief executive of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, a nonprofit group in Washington. “People just don’t understand how influential media is in the lives of young people.”

The show, which brings in roughly 3 million viewers an episode, follows pregnant teenagers and their journey in balancing babies, school and drama. Teens have watched the show for the sake of entertainment, but it’s also proving to be a learning lesson about the harsh reality of teen pregnancy.

Nielsen ratings and birth records have shown that over 20,000 pregnancies were prevented in accordance with the shows. Another find proved that areas where teens watch MTV’s hit show had lower rates in teen pregnancy than in places where teens don’t watch the program.

The study also explores how “16 and Pregnant” might have influenced teenagers’ behavior. For example, the two economists showed that social-media postings about contraception and Internet searches on the topic spiked sharply whenever the show was being broadcast.

Even still, to many, the show is a catch-22. While depicting the ordeal of teen pregnancy, 16 and Pregnant also shows the perks of being a teen mom with a camera in your face — stars reportedly earn upwards of $60,000 a season.

Another season of Teen Mom premieres on MTV on January 21st.

Preventing pregnancy or glorifying it? Sound off below…

SOURCE: The New York Times | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty

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