Teen birth rates drop in U.S., Pine Belt follows trend

Teen birth rates drop in U.S., Pine Belt follows trend

PINE BELT (WDAM) - Fewer teens in the U.S. are giving birth, and Pine Belt counties seem to be following that trend.

The new report from the CDC shows an 8 percent decrease in birth rates from 2014 to 2015 for teens aged 15 to 19, and birth rates have dropped by more than 46 percent since 2007.

"The preliminary birth rate for teenagers in 2015 was 22.3 births per 1,000 women aged 15–19 — yet another historic low for the country," the report states.

Since their peak of 61.8 in 1991, the CDC states teen birth rates have dropped 64 percent.

According to the Mississippi State Department of Health, the majority of Pine Belt is following that trend.

With the exception of Covington and Marion counties, the Pine Belt saw a decrease in teen birth rates from 2013 to 2014, which were the most recent years for which the MSDH had data.

Traci Suber, a nurse practitioner at Southeast Mississippi Rural Health Initiative's Women's Health Center, said teen mothers are more likely to have low birth weight babies, and those children cost more.

"Low birth weight babies cost approximately $28,000 in their first year of life in medical expenses," Suber said.

She said she frequently sees patients in her clinic who are concerned about the cost of having a child and said she thinks the downturn of the U.S. economy impacted birth rates.

"People are trying to save their money, and so they don't want to spend their money, especially the uninsured or underinsured, on healthcare," she said.

Suber said better education and better access to healthcare likely also helped lower teen birth rates.

"We have the teen pregnancy prevention program where we go out to the schools and teach the high schoolers about pregnancy prevention," she said.

While she said she isn't sure she's seeing fewer pregnant teens in her office, Suber is seeing more teens looking for pregnancy prevention options.

"We have seen more teenagers getting on birth control to prevent pregnancy," Suber said. "One thing that's helping bring down the teen pregnancy rate is the teenage girl's access to long acting contraceptives that they can get, such as a Depo-Provera shot, Nexplanon, which lasts for three years, the IUDs. That is all helping. They don't have to remember to take it, so it works better for them."

Suber said she was excited to see Mississippi was following a positive health trend, and thinks the decrease will continue.

"It's good for us because it means we're providing good care, and it means we're providing good education prior to pregnancy," Suber said.