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Minnesota's Teen Birth Rate Drops to Lowest on Record

PHOTO: The latest data show the teen birth rate in Minnesota is now at it's lowest point on record, with 19 births per 1,000 girls ages 15 to 19. Advocates say it's great news, but there's still much work to be done. CREDIT: Rachel Ferreira Photography
PHOTO: The latest data show the teen birth rate in Minnesota is now at it's lowest point on record, with 19 births per 1,000 girls ages 15 to 19. Advocates say it's great news, but there's still much work to be done. CREDIT: Rachel Ferreira Photography
May 23, 2013

ST. PAUL, Minn. - The birth rate among teenage girls in Minnesota has now dropped to its lowest level on record. The rate fell by 14 percent from 2010 to 2011. Judith Kahn, executive director, Teenwise Minnesota, said while changes among the younger teens usually lead the trend, this time around the largest decline was among the oldest.

"If you just look at that group, that rate decreased by 16.5 percent." she said. "What we're seeing is when you parse out the data, what's really driving that 14 percent is the age group of 18 and 19."

There are a number of reasons for the drop, Kahn said, including work in the fields of education and human services. She explains that a teen with positive dreams is more likely to delay becoming sexually active; and those who are, are more likely to use contraception.

"It is a lot about young people having access to information and seeing what's possible for them in their future and their making decisions in that regard. They're looking at 'Getting pregnant right now is probably not a good thing. I have other things I want to do.' So, that's great news," she said.

Despite the decline, thousands of teen girls give birth in Minnesota each year, so Kahn says there's still a lot of work ahead, especially with at-risk youth, including those in foster care and in the juvenile justice system.

"Teenwise and others are really looking more deeply about what do we need to change in our approach and how to we change the context for young people, so they have that same access to services and opportunities."

The teen birth rate in Minnesota is now at about 19 births per 1,000 teen girls, which is down nearly 50 percent from its peak in 1990. However, the teen birth rate in the U.S. remains higher than in most other industrialized nations.

More information is available from Teenwise Minnesota at www.moappp.org.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - MN