MTV's '16 and Pregnant' and its spinoffs have widely been criticized as glamorizing teen pregnancy, but a new study says the popular TV shows may actually serve as a cautionary tale for teens to avoid pregnancy.

According to the study by the National Bureau of Economic Research, teen births dropped by almost 6 percent in the year and a half after the teen mom shows started airing. That equates to about 20,000 births to teen moms prevented in 2010.

Researchers used data from internet searches and social media and found that in the 18 months following the debut of '16 and Pregnant,' there was an increased number of searches and tweets that focused on birth control and abortion, and ultimately led to a 5.7 percent reduction in teen births - one-third of the overall decline in teen births across the nation.

TV shows like '16 and Pregnant' and 'Teen Mom' follow the lives of pregnant teenagers during the end of their pregnancy and early days of motherhood. Some of the teen mothers on the shows have emerged tabloid and internet celebrities as a result. 'Teen Mom 2' star Farrah Abraham appeared in a sex tape video with porn star James Deen - a decision she says has ruined her life.

Chief executive of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, Sarah Brown, told The New York Times, "It's thrilling. People just don't understand how influential media is in the lives of young people."

Give us your two cents: What do you think of this study? Share your reaction and let us know what you think of '16 and Pregnant' and other teen motherhood shows.


Watch: Fox 4 had a doctor weigh in with her thoughts on teen pregnancy shows:

[Sources: National Bureau of Economic Research, Fox 4, New York Times]