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Minnesota's Hold on Low Teen Birth Rate Slips

January 9, 2009

Minneapolis, MN - Minnesota barely stays in the top ten among states with the lowest teen birth rates. A new study of federal health information shows the state slipped from seventh to tenth in the rate of births to teenaged girls.

Brigid Riley, director of the Minnesota Organization on Adolescent Pregnancy, Prevention and Parenting (MOAPP), says the state remains well below the national teen birth rate of 41.9 per 1000 females, but the slip is an unwelcome surprise.

"Of course, we're happy we're not any lower than that, but it is pretty startling, considering we've held such a low ranking for so many years."

Study authors looked at birth rates among girls ages 15 to 19, from 2005 to 2006, the most recent information available. The results confirm a seven percent increase in the teen birth rate during that time. As Riley points out, the increase coincides with government funding cuts that shuttered after-school programs and teen health education efforts.

"It's incumbent on us to choose to invest in things that we know work. This is not a time to be investing in something we hope will make a difference - but really, to choose the things that have been proven through evaluation."

According to Riley, MOAPP advocates such methods as quality after-school programs, evaluated health instruction in schools and churches, and access to low-cost health services and contraceptives.

Art Hughes, Public News Service - MN