“I think some of the new programs that have been introduced are having a positive effect,” said Dr. Tommy Jarrell, Richmond County Health Department health director.
North Carolina’s teen pregnancy rate fell to a record low in 2009; teenage girls ages 15 to 19 had 1,256 fewer pregnancies than in 2008. Which amounts to 56 of every 1,000 teenagers 15 to 19 got pregnant in 2009.
Richmond County rates were among those that decreased from 2008 with 171 pregnancies to 140 pregnancies in 2009.
The new rate reflects a nearly five percent decrease from the rates in 2008 with 58.6 per 1,000 girls. Teen pregnancy rates have consistently decreased following a spike in the 1980s. Pregnancy rates fell across all age, racial and ethnic categories., as well as in all but 37 North Carolina counties abortion rates also decreased in all categories.
“We’re seeing the payoff from the North Carolina General Assembly’s strategic investment in proven programs to help our most needy counties lower their rates,” said Kay Philips, Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Campaign of North Carolina executive director.
Despite the trend, high numbers still exist between racial and ethnic groups. The pregnancy among white teens was 45.4 per 1,000, while the minority teens were 74.3. The rate for Hispanic teens was 118.4.
North Carolina’s underserved rural counties typically saw bigger rates of teen pregnancy than urban counties. While the drop in teen pregnancy rates have been similar to national trends, North Carolina still lags behind the rest of the nation.
This year, North Carolina school will benefit from the new Healthy Youth Act (HYA) , the law requires schools to provide seventh through ninth graders with medically accurate information on STD prevent, pregnancy prevention and healthy relationships.
“We are pleased with the momentum we are gaining in lowering our teen pregnancy rates,” said Jeff Engel, North Carolina state health director.
In September, the federal government awarded a series of major grants to help North Carolina further reduce its teen pregnancy rate. North Carolina Public Health will receive two federal grants to focus on rates in high-need counties and on supporting pregnant and parenting teens. More than 28 percent of North Carolina teen pregnancy occur in girls who have already had a baby.
“These new tools gives us the momentum we need to create a serious drop in teen pregnancy rates,” Phillips said. “It’s crucial that we use this opportunity to leverage state funding, the targeted federal funding and the HYA to maximize outcomes for North Carolina teens.”
“We have to try and keep them busy and give them something constructive to do,” Jarrell said.
For more information on county rates contact the health department at (910) 997-8300.
Staff Writer Hollie Nivens can be reached at (910) 997-3111 ext. 19, or by e-mail at email@example.com