Thursday, May 9, 2013

Utah Teen Pregnancy Rate Plummets

(Salt Lake City, UT) – In 2006, the Utah Department of Health made a pledge to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy to reduce the teen pregnancy rate 20% by the year 2015.  The goal was to lower the rate from 39.6 to 31.7 pregnancies per 1,000 girls aged 15-19.  In 2011, Utah far surpassed the goal with a rate of 27.0 – a 29% plunge.

"In trying to examine reasons for the decline, we found that both births and abortions among teens have fallen since 2006,” said Nan Streeter, Director, UDOH Maternal and Child Health Bureau. “We saw a 40% reduction in the birth rate among Hispanic teens, and a 43% drop among Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders.” 

Streeter says the drop may be due to the efforts of local organizations that work directly with youth using federal teen pregnancy prevention funds.

Utah has received two grants from the federal Administration on Children, Youth, and Families.  The grants fund states to implement both ‘personal responsibility’ and ‘abstinence only’ education programs statewide. 

A recent CDC report examined postpartum contraceptive use among teens in 16 states. It found Utah's teen mothers had the second-highest postpartum use of the most effective contraceptive methods, including contraceptive implants and intrauterine devices.  The Department has high hopes for even better results in the future.

“Utah is certainly on the road to even further reductions in the teen pregnancy rate,” said David Turok, M.D., University of Utah Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. “The lower rate is due largely to the fact that Utah teens have had better access to highly effective contraception methods in recent years, namely IUDs and the contraceptive implant. We must continue to make these most effective, reversible methods available.”

Turok said only Colorado performed better than Utah over the last several years. “And that is because Colorado provided any resident who wanted one an IUD or under-the-skin implant free of charge.”

"Although we have met our statewide goal, there is still so much work to be done to help our youth put off having children until they are emotionally and financially more prepared,” said Dr. David Patton, UDOH Executive Director.  “We are committed to our mission to continue to reduce teen pregnancies."

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