Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Teen Pregnancy- New CDC Report has Good News & Bad News

The CDC released "Vital Signs: Teen Pregnancy" this week, which looks at teenage pregnancy statistics over the last two decades. On the plus side, the total national teen birth rate in the United States was the lowest we have recorded, down, in fact, by 37% from 1991. Unfortunately, we still had over 400,000 teenage births, which is 4% of female teens aged 15-19, and the annual estimated cost of teen childbearing is- gulp- over $9 BILLION. The USA birth rate is up to 9 times higher than most other developed countries.

Please note, my fellow southerners (Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, New Mexico and Mississippi), that we have the very WORST rates of teenage pregnancy in the country: >60/1000 females vs. <20/1000 for the best states, up in New England. Not something to boast about...

Today, and every day, 1,100 teenage girls will give birth in the US. That's 1 out of 10 new mothers. The cycle continues as 1/3 of kids born to teenage moms become teenage parents themselves. Not surprising, only half of teenage moms earn their high school diplomas- even by age 22.

The media is still portraying teen motherhood and sex in general as glamorous, fun, and enticing, which is far from the truth. Unpaid bills, screaming kids and exhausted parents are more the rule. We are slowly creeping in the right direction, but we've got much work to do to effectively educate our kids.

BOTTOM LINE: America has embarrassingly high rates of teenage pregnancy, costing our nation billions of dollars and heartache. We can do better.

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