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  The Minority/ Black Health Blog  

Monday, February 25, 2013

Teen Pregnancies Remain High Among African-Americans

Black Pregnant Teen

Although the teen (age 15 - 19) pregnancy rate from 1990 to 2008 declined by 42 percent, teen pregnancy is higher in the U.S. than in any other developed country. According to Planned Parenthood, the rate of teen pregnancies in the U.S. is at 31.3 per 1,000, compared to Australia (16.5), Canada (14.2), France (10.2), Germany (9.8), Netherlands (5.3), and Japan (4.9). The highest teenage birthrate in 2011 was among Hispanics at 49.4 per 1,000 and 47.4 per 1,000 for African-Americans.

Also according to Planned Parenthood, children of teenagers are more likely to live in poverty, less likely to graduate from high school, and 2.5 times as likely to end up in jail by the time they are teenagers or in their 20's. They are also more likely to become teenage parents themselves. Babies born to teens have a significantly higher mortality rate than the national rate, they are less likely to receive proper nutrition and are more prone to develop childhood health problems.

Despite the decrease in teen pregnancies among African-American girls, the rate is still three times higher than for white teenage girls. The largest age group for pregnant black teens is 18-19 (69 percent). But in 2010, 1,573 teen births were among blacks under age 15, according to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.

Education is critical to continue the decrease in teen pregnancies. Not just education regarding safe sex and contraceptives, but knowledge that gives teens the hope and expectation that a college education and a career path are possibilities. Along with education, more changes are needed in providing increased educational opportunities for African-American teens and more scholarships for those who otherwise are missing out on college and their chances of getting a high-paying job.

Teen pregnancy prevention efforts are popping up in many states in an effort to keep teen pregnancy numbers declining. Many of them include family life education courses that teach teens how to resist peer pressure and form their own values, abstinence programs and life options programs that encourage teens to set goals and establish high aspirations for themselves. Many of these programs have met with great success.
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