National Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month
Nearly 3 in 10 girls in the U.S. get pregnant at least once before age 20. May is Teen Pregnancy Prevention month, with May 1 being the National kick-off day. All across the nation, health departments, partner organizations and communities will be joining efforts to send one simple message: Sex has consequences.
Here’s the good news when looking at statistics through 2011:
The birth rate for teens aged 15-19 in the United States dropped 8% from the 2010 level and to a record low
Teen birth rates declined for all races and for Hispanics in the United States
Alexandria’s teen pregnancy rate of 33.4 per 1,000 girls ages 10-19 in 2011 was down 20% from 2010 – the lowest teen pregnancy rate in Alexandria in over 15 years
The news above is a welcome relief. But there are still a lot of challenges.
Despite our efforts, Alexandria continues to have the highest teen pregnancy rate in northern Virginia. Every teen deserves a great future – and it is the community’s responsibility to provide every opportunity to help every teen reach their potential.
Teen pregnancy bears substantial economic and social costs – although the cost to U.S. taxpayers is well over $10 billion, the greatest burden is on the teen mom and her baby. Teen pregnancy remains a significant contributor to high school dropout rates among girls, and teen moms have lower economic opportunity and more health problems than their peers. Babies born to teen moms are much more likely to be low birth weight, or even pre-term, compared to babies of older women; what’s worse is that babies of teen moms are at an increased risk of dying in infancy. But the challenges don’t end in infancy – children of teen moms are more likely to have lower school achievement, more health problems, to be incarcerated some time during adolescence, and to face unemployment as a young adult.
Alexandria has cause to celebrate – as part of the Alexandria Campaign on Adolescent Pregnancy (ACAP), the Alexandria Health Department, parents, teens, and other organizations in the community have all had a role in Alexandria’s lowest teen pregnancy rate in over 15 years, in 2011. It’s critical to continue our efforts so that every teen has the best chance for success – Alexandria must continue to expand upon a multitude of strategies to help teens protect their futures by preventing pregnancies until they are older, finished with school, and in stable, committed relationships.
For more information, resources, and how you can help decrease teen pregnancy in Alexandria and across the nation, please visit these websites:
http://keepit360.org/ (ACAP’s website)
(Statistics provided by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention & and the Alexandria Health Department)