Thursday, April 15, 2010

New Statistics for Teen Age Pregnancies

Post by guest blogger Maggie Jung

If you flip open a section of the Dallas Morning News, you probably wouldn’t be surprised to find an article on the increasing problem of teen pregnancy in the United States. But what about an article stating teen birth rates have dropped? Until now, data has pointed towards another possible increase, yet just recently, on April 6, 2010, the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy sent out a press release announcing that teen birth rates in the United States had decreased for the first time in three years. Between 2007 and 2008, the total decline in teen births among teens age 15-19 dropped 2%. After an increase of 5% between 2005 and 2008, this new data may offer some hope that this trend is being reversed. Data provided by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics showed that the biggest decline was seen among older teens, ages 18-19, where the teen birth rate fell 4%.

With the release of this information one might wonder where Texas, and particularly Dallas County, stands in relation to the rest of the country. Texas has often been well above the national average. According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, in 2005 birth rates for teens 15-17 years were 21.4 out of 1,000 girls in the United States and 35.3 per 1,000 girls in Texas.

After Mississippi and New Mexico, this puts Texas at the top of the list of states with the highest teen birth rates. As for Dallas County, while the nearby counties of Denton, Rockwall, Collin, Wise, and Parker fall at or below the national average, Dallas had somewhere between 21.5 and 42.8 teen births out of 1,000, and in the North Texas region, 12% of these were repeat births. According to the Dallas Morning News, as of 2007 24% of teen births in the state were repeat births.

There are plenty of theories out there about why teen birth rates are so high. Rather than debate “Why?” we should look at what we can do to continue this decline in teenage births at the national level, but also at the statewide and local levels. Education is critical to preventing teenage pregnancy. And in particular in Texas, where the repeat birth rates are so high, we should look at what can be done to educate teens who have already given birth once before.

Hope Cottage offers counseling and parenting classes to pregnant teens, and works with teens in many different situations and not only with teens after becoming pregnant. Through programs like “The ABCs of Adoption,” Hope Cottage can also work on the educating teens about the trials and tribulations of a teen age pregnancy.

As we wait for statewide data to be made available, we might consider what else can be done to help prevent high teen birth rates. One thing I am sure we can all agree on is that it is not OK to be so high above the national average. Let’s do something about it!

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