Birth rate among girls ages 10 to 14 declines to lowest level in 60 years

Houston Chronicle:

The birthrate among the nation's youngest mothers — girls age 10 to 14 — has fallen to its lowest level in almost 60 years, according to a federal report issued Monday.

The Texas rate is also dropping, but it remains one of the highest in the country.

"This report is, of course, good news," said Bill Albert, a spokesman for the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, an advocacy organization. "But it makes you wonder who the guys are, and where are the fathers of these (infants) and are they being held responsible."

Ruth Buzi, an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology with Baylor College of Medicine's Teen Health Clinic at Ben Taub General Hospital, said the declining rates are the result of education campaigns in schools about the consequences of teen pregnancy.

"The kids listen to us. We need to keep going and keep doing it," said Buzi, who has seen pregnant patients as young as 9. "Texas does not do so well. We have to continue working as a community."

Reports of declining teen pregnancy numbers often ignite debates about which is better: abstinence-only sex education, or sex education that discusses abstinence and contraception.

Earlier this year, a study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health suggested that the reason for the teen pregnancy decline, at least among high school students, is both: delaying sex and more effective contraception. The survey concluded that 53 percent of the decline in teen pregnancy rates can be attributed to decreased sexual activity, and 47 percent can be attributed to improved contraceptive practices.




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