Do Latino Youth Really Want to Get Pregnant?

Genevieve Martínez García

Genevieve Martínez García

While teen births rates are rapidly dropping, the disparity between Latino girls and their White and Black peers is still noticeable. This disparity has led researchers and program administrators alike to ask themselves…how much of Latino teen pregnancies are intended? It is not an unusual question since the number of unintended pregnancies is quite high. It is estimated that in 31 out of 50 states, more than half of pregnancies are unintended, about half of which resulted in actual births (Kost, 2013).

Pregnancy intentions have been measured in multiple ways, assessing pregnancy intentions during conception, level of happiness with pregnancy at birth, or number of years between actual and planned conception. These measurements have resulted in multiple variables: unintended, unwanted, or mistimed pregnancies. However, these measurements are exclusively asked to pregnant or parenting mothers. My curiosity was to find out if girls and boys have a secrete desire to get pregnant, and what are the environmental conditions that may lead a teen to think a pregnancy can be a good thing in their lives.

Through extensive formative research (interviews, focus-groups and key stakeholders’ consultation), I developed a scale to assess pregnancy intentions among Latino youth in one Maryland county. The “Pregnancy Wantedness Scale” (PWS) asked respondents to rate on a 5-point Likert scale their level of agreement on 20 statements that described positive and negative consequences of an immediate pregnancy. High scores on the PWS indicate higher levels of positive attitudes towards and pregnancy. These attitudinal items stated for example “Having a baby right now would make me happy” or “If I have a baby right now my partner would stay with me.” We built a linear regression model to explore the impact socio-demographic and cultural attributes have on the level on pregnancy wantedness. We included indicators of income, family education, household composition, religion, acculturation, age, and contraception use. I also wanted to isolate the results by gender and level of sexual experience, so we split our sample of 794 Latino youth ages 14-19 into four groups. (For a full description of the methods, data tables, strengths, and limitations please see the full text article here)[1].

The sample was slightly more male (57%) with a mean age of 16.9 years. Forty-two percent (42%) were born outside the U.S., and 43% immigrated as children under 13. Many of the youth immigrated from El Salvador, Honduras, or Guatemala (36%) and most (70%) lived with their mother, or with mother and father. Their mothers’ level of education was pretty low. About half (50.6%) had less than high school degree, and only 14.7% had some college degree which is consistent with education levels of Central American immigrants nationwide (Pew Hispanic, 2014). Half of the respondents considered themselves Catholic (50.5%) and reported that religion was very important or important (38.1%) in influencing their decisions about sexuality and contraception.

Most of the sample (60.8%) reported having had vaginal sex at least once in their lifetime. Of these, 43% of the males first had sex by age 13 and 20% of the females at 14 years. Although 68.5% and 52.7% of sexually active male and female respondents respectively used a condom during their last sexual intercourse, 23.8% reported using no method or using withdrawal. Fourteen percent of sexually active males and 25.5% of sexually active females had experienced a pregnancy.

We found that teens in general did not intend to get pregnant. However, their overall score on the PWS scale hovered just below the midpoint. This means that their intentions to NOT get pregnant were not very strong either. Surprisingly this ambivalence is precisely what places them at risk of a pregnancy. Previous studies that examined ambivalence found that female youth who are ambivalent towards becoming pregnant are less likely to use contraception (Stevens-Simon, Sheeder Beach, & Harter, 2005; Kavanaugh & Schwarz, 2009; Frost, Singh, & Finer, 2007), more likely to have an abortion (Rosengard, Phipps, Adler, & Ellen, 2004), and more likely to get pregnant (Zabin, Astone, & Emerson 1993) than female youth with negative or even positive attitudes about pregnancy.

How did the four subsamples compare to each other in terms of their levels of pregnancy wantedness? The sexually experienced sample had a significantly higher level of pregnancy wantedness PWS mean of 50.5 compared to 47.1 of the abstinent sample. Females had significantly lower scores than males (mean= 46.5 versus 48.8 respectively), and abstinent females had lower scores than their sexually active peers (44.1 versus 48.8 respectively). Differences in pregnancy wantedness levels between sexually experienced and abstinent males were not significant.

So what are the factors that may cause this ambivalence? We discovered that for all four groups, living with their mother, and living with their mother AND father was a protective factor that decreased their pregnancy wantedness. However, each group had different factors that impacted their attitudes towards a teen pregnancy. For those with no sexual experience, their mother’s education (having at least completed high school completion or having some college education) decreased their PWS scores. Males were influenced by their religious views. Those who considered religion important in their sexual behavior decisions had higher pregnant wantedness scores, suggesting that traditional religious views encourage familism. One interesting finding is the effect of acculturation in females’ attitudes towards a pregnancy. For abstinent females, greater levels of language acculturation—meaning they spoke more English than Spanish—translated into lower PWS score. For sexually experienced females having been born outside the U.S. decreased their pregnancy wantedness. Another surprising finding is that only hormonal contraception use at last sexual intercourse was found significant in decreasing pregnancy wantedness among sexually active females, but condom use was not significant in any group.

How do social determinants affect pregnancy wantedness?

The table below lists the social determinants found significant in reducing (-) or increasing (+) the PWS score, or pregnancy wantedness among Latino teens.

2014_09_table_pregnancy wantednessWhat’s the take home message?

We found that Latino youth do not want to get pregnant in most cases. However, their ambivalent attitudes towards a pregnancy might place them at risk by not actively seeking effective ways to prevent a pregnancy. As sexual health educators, we need to shift our lens and think beyond the classroom, the contraception, and the curriculum we teach. Where Latino youth live, learn, and play matters! And this is evidenced by the familial, social, and cultural environment that helps shape their views towards a pregnancy and towards actively seeking pregnancy protection. This study suggests that the family environment (who lives with the youth and their level of education), their beliefs (religion), their acculturation level (language use and place of birth), and use of hormonal contraception play an important role in youth’s sexual and reproductive health decisions. Condom use, the desired behavioral outcome of evidence-based teen pregnancy prevention programs, appears irrelevant to pregnancy desire. It would be interesting to explore more in-depth the acculturation dynamics that impact sexually abstinent girls differently and the religious views males hold. Teen pregnancy prevention efforts must expand the scope of their targeted outcomes, and consider social determinants of health from social, economic and cultural contexts in which Latino youth live, work, and play to promote healthy sexuality for all.

[1] Martínez-García, G. Carter-Pokras, O., Atkinson, N., Portnoy, B. & Lee, S. (2014). Do Latino youth really want to get pregnant?: Assessing pregnancy wantedness. American Journal of Sexuality Education, 9:3, 329-346. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15546128.2014.944735

 

References

Kost, K., Henshaw, S., & Carlin, L. (2010). US teenage pregnancies, births and abortions: National and state trends and trends by race and ethnicity.

Pew Hispanic (2014). 2011 Hispanic Origin Profiles. Retrieved on September 20, 2014 from http://www.pewhispanic.org/.

Stevens-Simon, C., Sheeder, J., Beach, R., & Harter, S. (2005). Adolescent

pregnancy: do expectations affect intentions?. Journal of Adolescent Health,37(3), 243-e15.

Kavanaugh, M. L., & Schwarz, E. B. (2009). Prospective Assessment of Pregnancy Intentions Using a Single‐Versus a Multi‐Item Measure.

Perspectives on sexual and reproductive health, 41(4), 238-243.

Frost, J. J., & Darroch, J. E. (2008). Factors associated with contraceptive choice and inconsistent method use, United States, 2004. Perspectives on sexual and reproductive health, 40(2), 94-104.

Rosengard, C., Phipps, M. G., Adler, N. E., & Ellen, J. M. (2004).

Adolescent pregnancy intentions and pregnancy outcomes: A longitudinal examination.Journal of Adolescent Health, 35(6), 453-461.

Zabin, L. S., Astone, N. M., & Emerson, M. R. (1993). Do adolescents want babies? The relationship between attitudes and behavior. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 3(1), 67-86.

Advertisements

How Would You Score? Assessing for Characteristics of Effective Curricula

Valerie Sedivy

Valerie Sedivy

If you work with schools to provide teen pregnancy, HIV, and/or STI programming, you may already know that many schools and districts use the Health Education Curriculum Analysis Tool (HECAT) to select and adapt curricula.

For those of you less familiar with yet another acronym for our field: The HECAT stands for Health Education Curriculum Analysis Tool. It was developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention with help from many different experts in a wide range of fields, including public and school health education practices, health education standards and assessment, school curriculum design, classroom instruction, and health risk behavioral research and practice.

There are many benefits to using the HECAT to select and adapt curricula, but here are some of the top reasons…

  • Assess a health education curriculum you already have in place and identify strengths and weaknesses.
  • Compare various curricula with one another in a fair and systematic way, to select a curriculum.
  • Design a new curriculum and capitalize on the guidance in the HECAT.

Your efforts to work with schools are more likely to be successful if you know how to use this tool. With support from CDC-DASH*, Healthy Teen Network has developed an orientation to the HECAT through a series of pre-recorded mini-webinars, designed to help you learn at your own pace. Topics covered include:

  1. What is the HECAT, and how can it help me?
  2. Building blocks of the HECAT: The Characteristics of Effective Curricula
  3. Building blocks of the HECAT: The National Health Education Standards
  4. A walk through the HECAT
  5. Using topic-based modules to review curricula
  6. What now? The HECAT review process and use of results

(Click on each topic above to view the mini-webinars.)

Healthy Teen Network also offers in-person training on the HECAT, to help you gain hands-on experience using this tool. You can request a training online through our Service Request Form.

*The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Adolescent and School Health, cooperative agreement 1U87PS004175-01.

Valerie Sedivy is a Senior Program Manager at Healthy Teen Network.

Teen Birth Rates Down: Let’s Continue this Trend by Addressing Social Determinants

Friday, September 6, 2013, the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) released preliminary birth data for 2012. State-specific data tables are also available.

Some key highlights from the CDC NCHS report on preliminary birth data for 2012[1]:

Teen Birth Rates

  • The birth rate for teens 15-19 years was down 6% in 2012 (29.4 births per 1,000 teens 15-19 years), yet another historic low for the nation, with rates declining for younger and older teens and for nearly all racial and Hispanic origin groups. 
  • Since 2007, the teen birth rate has dropped almost one third (from 41.5 births per 1,000 teens 15-19 years)and more than half in the years from 1991 (61.8) to 2012 (29.4).
  • The number of births to teens 15-19 dropped 7% during 2011-2012, to 305,420, the fewest since the end of World War II.
  • The 2012 total births to teens was almost one-third fewer than in 2007 (444,899) and less than half the total in 1970, the all-time peak year for the number of teen births (644,708).

Younger Teen Birth Rates

  • Consistent with recent trends, the rate for younger teens fell more during 2011-2012 than the rate for older teens, 8% compared with 5%.
  • The birth rate for the youngest teens, aged 10-14 years, remained at 0.4 births per 1,000 in 2012. Because the female population in this age group declined very slightly, the number of births to under 15-year-olds declined as well during 2011-2012 to 3,674, the fewest since 1946.

Young Adult Birth Rates

  • The birth rate for women in their early twenties, 20-24 years, declined in 2012, to a new record low of 83.1 births per 1,000 women. 
  • The birth rate for women 20-24 years has declined steadily since 2007 at nearly 5 percent annually.

Birth Rates among Racial and Ethnicity Groups

  • Among racial and ethnicity groups, declines from 2011 to 2012 for teens 15-19 years ranged from 3 percent for American Indian/Alaska Native (AIAN) teens to 5 to 7 percent for non-Hispanic white, non-Hispanic black, Asian and Pacific Islander (API) and Hispanic teens.
  • The largest decline for any population group since 2007 was reported for Hispanic teens, down 39 percent, to 46.3 per 1,000 in 2012.

(*As another related resource, Child Trends posted a helpful analysis on the birth rate data and closing the gap between racial and ethnic groups.)

The continued downward trend in the teen birth rate is promising news. Positive health outcomes are the result of reduced sexual risk-taking behaviors, such as increased correct and consistent use of condoms and contraception, reduced frequency of sex, and delayed initiation of sexual activity.  In comparison to previous sexual behaviors, the CDC notes, “While reasons for the declines are not clear, teens seem to be less sexually active, and more of those who are sexually active seem to be using birth control than in previous years.”

Drilling down to identify the factors causing these positive behavior changes is a bit less straightforward. There is a vast field of research demonstrating that evidence-based programs can reduce sexual risk-taking behaviors. We also know that there are over 500 risk and protective factors influencing sexual risk-taking behaviors, with some of those factors having more influence or a higher amenability to change through programs and services.

President Obama’s Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative (TPPI) supports the implementation of these evidence-based programs, in an effort coordinating funding and activities across agencies, including the U.S Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Adolescent Health (OAH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Division of Reproductive Health (DRH) and Division of Adolescent and School Health (DASH).

While the latest report is encouraging, the data also signal the need for constant and continued effort to empower youth to lead healthy sexual, reproductive, and family lives. When we consider that health disparities persist, and U.S. rates are still higher than all other industrialized nations, the rising HIV and sexually transmitted infection (STI) rates, the changing demographics of the country, and the persistent gaps in rates across racial/ethnic and socioeconomic groups, there is still much to be done, and new, innovative approaches are needed.

Figure 1[2]

teen_birth_rate

Current realities—

  • the persistent health disparities among marginalized youth;
  • the rising and disproportionate HIV and STI rates among youth;
  • the United States’ lagging progress behind other industrialized nations; and
  • the many, many risk and protective factors influencing sexual risk-taking behaviors—

indicate a need to increase our impact, despite the reduction in birth rates for 2012.

With these realities in mind, Healthy Teen Network developed its 2013-2016 Strategic Plan, a Road Map for the Future of Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health. Healthy Teen Network promotes a social-ecological health promotion frame because it supports communities to recognize, explore, and address the social and environmental factors—the social determinants of health—that influence citizens’ health and learning, particularly as they relate to risk-taking behaviors.

Figure 3[3]

Social-Ecological Health Promotion Frame

soc_hecol_model

The social-ecological health promotion frame changes our way of thinking about what we do and what young people need to thrive, such as addressing issues of housing, food, education, employment, and more, as these social determinants impact the health and well-being of young people.

Using the ecological frame can help build collaboration beyond our field and achieve better outcomes for youth across diverse populations.

Evidence-based programs, such as those funded through Obama’s Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative have contributed greatly to the continued downward trend in teen birth rates, and Healthy Teen Network believes in the critical importance of these evidence-based programs. However, as a national community, we must explore new methods to address the needs of populations not addressed within the current repertoire of evidence-based programs, as well as those populations who need attention on a range of social determinants, beyond health education. And so, Healthy Teen Network promotes research-based approaches, innovative programs, and new partnerships.

We believe, with this attention to research-based and innovative approaches, new partnerships, and populations of need, we can increase our impact, continuing the promising downward trend, while also addressing health disparities. Society has an obligation to all adolescents and young adults, including teen parents, to have access to these opportunities in order to lead healthy and fulfilling lives.

How do you work to incorporate social determinants in your work with youth?

How can we work to collaborate with new and diverse partners, to address social determinants?

Gina Desiderio

Gina Desiderio

Gina Desiderio is the Director of Marketing and Communications at Healthy Teen Network


[1] Hamilton B.E., Martin J.A., Ventura S.J. Births: Preliminary data for 2012. National vital statistics reports; vol 61 no 5. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2012. Available from: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr62/nvsr62_03.pdf

[2] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2010 Sexually Transmitted Diseases Surveillance. http://www.cdc.gov/std/stats10/adol.htm. Retrieved April 30, 2013.

When Can We Move Past the Whole Shame/Blame Thing?

Alexandra Eisler

Alexandra Eisler

The NYC Department of Public Health and Mental Hygiene wants us to get a message: Being a teen parent is hard. The message they’re sending is half right: being a teen parent has its challenges, but the hardest part of raising a child when you’re really young is that lots of adults think teens need to hear they’re doomed. They’ve been saying this for years just to make sure it sticks. And, at least in the case of the latest NYC public service announcements, they also want the children of teen parents to know they’re a burden.

Growing up, I didn’t know many teen mothers. The message I heard growing up was that getting pregnant meant disaster. It was the end of the world, and to make sure we all knew just how bad it was, if one of our classmates turned up pregnant, the gossip would start and everyone would know just what a failure she was. It was awful.

If you asked 17-year-old me if I thought these PSAs would stop teens from getting pregnant, I would have said yes….just as effective as the pictures of wart-ridden genitals in my biology class were at keeping kids from having sex. Right. Of course.

Years later, I learned about my half-brother who is fourteen years older than me and the child of my father and his high school girlfriend when they were 18 (our father left when he was born). I’ve been lucky to get to know him and to build a relationship with him. It’s been incredible to learn about each other and how the differences in our childhoods have shaped us (we share the same absent father, but my mother was 36 when she had me).

He has told me about where he lived growing up, the house his family lived in, and the strained relationships he saw as a child. He said that he heard the same shame-filled messages about how bad it was to come from a poor, single, teen mother, and he thought no matter how hard he worked, he couldn’t escape his “trashy” family. He told me about his mother’s struggles and about her being sent away with him after he was born. He told me about how hard he had to fight to build a life he could feel good about.

As an adult, I know that messages of hopelessness won’t prevent pregnancy. What they will do is set young parents up for not only the challenges of raising a child but to do so believing the world wants to see them fail. When I think about my brother, I see a man full of ingenuity and determination, and I feel angry he heard loud and clear that he was less than. I’m proud of how much he has accomplished and the family he is now raising, and I am grateful to be a part of it.

Our words and actions shape the lives around us. We have a responsibility to educate one another about what it means to make choices–in this case, choices about raising a family. With that responsibility is the power to either punish or support those we care about. Like the wart-ridden genitals of my biology class, using shame and fear defeat themselves, giving way to all kinds of unintended consequences. Be careful what you say, someone is listening.

How do you work with teen parents to combat these kinds of shaming messages?

Alexandra Eisler is the Training and TA Coordinator at Healthy Teen Network.

Keeping an Eye on STI in the Age of LARC

Valerie Sedivy

Valerie Sedivy

In case you have been under a rock for the past few years, LARCs (otherwise known as Long Acting Reversible Contraceptives) are all the rage in the teen pregnancy prevention community. While implants and injectable contraception have been promoted for many years in this age group, the resurgence of the IUD (intrauterine device) has refocused our attention on LARCs in a big way. Given what we know about the failure rate of other contraceptive methods among teens, this may well be a good thing.

On the other hand, maybe it’s not as simple as it seems. By promoting LARCs among teens, are we inadvertently discouraging condom use? A recent Journal of Adolescent Health study suggests that this may be the case. Now keep in mind that this study only pointed to an association between the use of LARCs and decreased condom use. We cannot say for sure that the use of LARCs caused the decline in condom use. But it does suggest cause for concern. We all want to help teens avoid pregnancy in the most effective way possible, and clearly LARCs help us achieve that aim—and I would wager that none of us wants to do so at the expense of rising rates of STIs. As we all know, some STIs have consequences far more severe than pregnancy.

So what do we do? Do you have a clear and compelling way to make the case that condoms are still essential, even when a teen has the pregnancy risk covered? Is it realistic that teens will do both? After all, many may choose to use LARCs once they are in an ‘established’ relationship when they perceive the risks of STIs to be low to none. At what point is it OK to say “go ahead and skip the condom”? Is it ever OK?

Do the field a favor and share your thoughts and ideas. We need to address this issue more than ever. While teen pregnancy rates are on the decline, rates of STIs among this age group are still far too high and may climb higher if the use of LARCs increases at the expense of condom use.

Valerie Sedivy is a Senior Program Manager at Healthy Teen Network.


Turning 40 and Still Dreaming Big!

Pat Paluzzi, DrPH

As we celebrate 40 years of Title IX, we can’t help but reflect on what this act has done for women and young girls, as well as dream about future possibilities. At Healthy Teen Network, we spend a lot of time thinking about ways to support positive outcomes for pregnant and parenting teens. While most people think of girls’ sports when they hear Title IX, it also contains relevant protections for pregnant and parenting teens, a rather thoughtful and auspicious addition to what is basically a gender equity act.

Under Title IX, schools are prohibited from discriminating against a student because of childbirth, false pregnancy, abortion, or recovery from these conditions, as well as marital status. Title IX contains basic nondiscrimination principles, including the fundamental requirement that schools treat pregnancy and all related conditions like any other temporary disability. In a 2009 policy brief by Healthy Teen Network and National Women’s Law Center, Keeping Pregnant and Parenting Students from Dropping Out: A Guide for Policymakers and Schools, we noted that, in spite of Title IX, pregnant and parenting students still face challenges to graduating from high school because of a lack of system-wide supports.

We celebrate the continued and consistent attention to supporting educational attainment among pregnant and parenting teens that Title IX has prompted, and dream of passage of the Pregnant and Parenting Access to Education Act (HR 5584), that was introduced to congress last year by Jared Polis (D-CO) and Judy Chu (D-CA). The legislation sought to strengthen these educational supports so that these young men and women—often extremely motivated—can achieve their dreams despite early parenthood. Healthy Teen Network is proud of the work we have done to help develop and support this legislation.

We envision that NWLC’s new report, A Pregnancy Test for Schools: The Impact of Education Laws on Pregnant and Parenting Students, will inspire action and advocacy efforts on behalf of pregnant and parenting students. The report, released yesterday, shows how the vast majority of state education laws and policies fail to adequately support these students. This is unacceptable and we all play an important part in making sure this changes, if for no other reason than the economic well-being of our Nation, as this population represents lost work force opportunities.

Perhaps our most grandiose vision for the future, however, is that all teen moms and dads receive the support they need to graduate high school, go on to more education and training and take their place as productive and proud adults. This is possible if Title IX is seriously enforced, each and every school district commits to supporting this population of young people, and we professionals do our part to educate and advocate.

Pat Paluzzi, DrPH, is President/CEO of Healthy Teen Network.

Seeking Validation: A Former Teen Parent’s Journey

Todaé Charles

Growing up as a teen parent, I was fearful. I had my four children when I was 13, 15, 17, and 19 years old. Because I was so young, I thought people would try to take my children away from me. As I grew up and raised my family, people would often ask, “How did you make it?”

My relationship with my mom was really strained. We were not close at all. Having gone through so many challenges alone, when I was 20 years old, I placed a call to my grandma and told her I was tired. At that moment I believed I wanted to commit suicide. My grandma said, “Todaé, if you wanted to commit suicide, you would not have called me.” I just held the phone as I sat on the San Francisco Bay Bridge.

Grandma asked, “Baby what prayer you are praying?” I answered, “The Serenity Prayer.” She said, “Wrong prayer my love, you need to ask God to help you to accept that your mother may not change, and she is doing the best she knows how to do.” With that piece of wisdom, I drove away from the bridge with all of my children in the back seat of my 1977 Impala Chevy Station wagon. I cried for hours and then realized she was right. In that instant, I decided enough was enough—I have a future. I knew my faith was weak, and I needed that reality check.

I am now 34 years young. My children are 20, 18, 16, and 14 years old with no children of their own. They are all career- and goal-oriented. I now understand that as a teen parent I was a child having children, and I had no direction. I, however, had ambition and motivation to survive. I was determined to make it because so many people had made up in their minds that I was not going to be anybody.

As I matured into a young adult, I often wanted acceptance from my mother. Unfortunately she would not say the words I wanted and so desperately believed I needed to hear. “I am proud of you.” Finally, on my 30th birthday she called and whispered, “I am proud of you.” I expected to feel a wealth of positive emotions, but I didn’t. I realized at that moment that I was proud of myself, and I did not need her validation anymore.

On February 14, 2011, my mother passed away at the age of 53 from Multiple Sclerosis. That morning, I spoke to my mom. I asked her, “Why were you so hard on me?” She replied, “You are my only girl, and I needed you to be strong. If I was soft on you, the world would have eaten you alive.” She then said again, “Baby, I love you, and I am truly proud of you.” That was when the emotions of joy, humbleness, and acceptance into adulthood welled up inside of me. I was thankful that my mom believed she could leave me here on earth and know that everything is going to be PHENOMENAL.

Later that evening she took her final rest, and I began a new phase of my journey.

Todaé Charles is the Teen Parenting Program Coordinator & Assistant Grant Writer at the Family & Leadership Empowerment Network and the recipient of Healthy Teen Network’s 2011 Outstanding Teen Parent Award.

News for Which to Be Thankful!

Kelly Connelly

Late last week, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released Births: Preliminary Data for 2010. Among other key findings in the report,  data showed the birth rate for teenagers fell 9% to 34.3 births per 1,000 females aged 15-19 in 2010, the lowest level ever reported for the United States. This 9% decrease from 2009 is the largest single year decrease since 1946-47. The rate has fallen 44% from 1991 (61.8) when U.S. teen birth rates began a long-term decline.

Here at Healthy Teen Network, it goes without saying that we are encouraged by–and thankful for–the news of this dramatic decline.

“The teen birth rate decline is excellent news, supporting the recent emphasis and federal funding for evidenced-based programs to prevent teen pregnancy,” says Dr. Pat Paluzzi, President/CEO of Healthy Teen Network. “These programs are proven to be effective at reducing sexual risk-taking behavior and incorporate messages on both abstinence and medically accurate information about contraception.”

Teen birth rates for all race and Hispanic origin groups reached historic lows in 2010. Declines for teens ages 15-19 ranged from 9% each for non-Hispanic white and non-Hispanic black teens to 12% for Hispanic and American Indian and Alaskan Native teens, and 13% for Asian and Pacific Islander teens.  “Although the rates declined across marginalized youth populations, health disparities continue to persist,” Dr. Paluzzi notes. “We must continue to focus our efforts on empowering youth and incorporating youth development principles into our work.”

As the only national organization focused on teen pregnancy prevention and pregnant and parenting teens, Healthy Teen Network remains a strong advocate for teens who have become pregnant and/or are parenting . Dr. Paluzzi says, “The teen birth rate is down, but continuing to support pregnant and parenting teens is as important as ever.  With caring support and resources, adolescents and young adults can be effective parents and successful adults.”

Kelly Connelly is the Marketing and Communications Manager at Healthy Teen Network.

%d bloggers like this: