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Report: Teen Pregnancy Declining

December 7, 2006

St. Paul, MN - America's teen pregnancy rate at its lowest ever recorded, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. Brigid Riley with the Minnesota Organization on Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention and Parenting says she's encouraged by the trend.

"The good news here really is that most of the decline we've seen in the teen pregnancy rate is due to the fact that young people who are sexually active are using birth control more effectively."

Riley says the best way to prevent kids from having kids is abstinence, but she acknowledges that sometimes, that's not practical and other approaches are necessary.

"Some people are going to engage in (sex) before we want them to. It's very important that they have the information they need, so we emphasize abstinence and waiting until you're in a quality relationship. However, it's very important that people have information about how to prevent pregnancy and sexually-transmitted infection."

According to Riley, the impacts of kids having kids are life-lasting, both for mother and child.

"Those include health risks to the mother and to the child, and more sustained health problems throughout their lives. Certainly, it also impedes finishing educational programs; the young children often arrive at school not ready to learn. It also has a long-lasting influence on a young parent's ability to earn a living."

Riley says another key factor is improved efforts to educate kids about abstinence, along with initiatives by parents, medical providers and faith-based groups. She believes the ultimate goal is to prevent all unintended teen pregnancies, and the best way to do that is through educating kids about available options.

The report shows the birth rate for teens, 15-19 years old, has declined 35 percent over the past quarter-century.

More information is available online, at www.moapp.org; and on the CDC Web site, at www/cdc.gov.

Jim Wishner/Eric Mack, Public News Service - MN