N.C.’s Teen Pregnancy Rate Hits 30-Year Low

North Carolina’s teen pregnancy rate fell to a 30-year low in 2008, according to new data released last week.  Teenage girls in North Carolina had 217 fewer pregnancies in 2008 than in 2007. 

Experts are crediting evidence-based prevention strategies, like The Anson County Partnership for Children’s Adolescent Parenting Program, for some of the decrease.  Evidence-based approaches are rooted in behavioral research and have been evaluated for proof of their effectiveness.

The Adolescent Parenting Program was created to reduce the number of repeat teen pregnancies, which account for approximately 30% of teen pregnancies each year. The program increases the self-sufficiency of young mothers, and has a multi-generational impact by improving the long-term health and success of both mother and baby. Twenty-nine sites in 27 counties have implemented the program and less than 2% of participants had a repeat pregnancy. Due in part to this initiative, Anson County’s teen pregnancy rate fell by 32.9% in 2008. 

“North Carolina has been smart to leverage investments from the General Assembly and the Centers for Disease Control to bring proven pregnancy prevention strategies to North Carolina,” says Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Campaign of North Carolina (APPCNC) Executive Director Kay Phillips. “This new data shows that we are headed in the right direction, and that we must keep pressing forward so that more communities can benefit from these tools.”

Chatham County has reduced their teen pregnancy rate by 26% by leveraging both state and private funding to host Plain Talk, a nationally recognized and replicated promising program. Used for the past four years by nonprofit Chatham County Together, Plain Talk is a neighborhood-based initiative that teaches adults how to communicate effectively and comfortably with youth about health and personal responsibility.

“Keeping these programs strong – and offering them in more communities – is crucial to maintaining a positive trend in our pregnancy rates,” said Phillips. “We must not let these programs get lost as state and local dollars get harder and harder to come by.”

The data, compiled by the NC Department of Health and Human Services (NC DHHS), show that 58.6 out of every 1,000 teen girls ages 15 to 19 became pregnant in 2008. The new rate reflects a 7% decrease from the 2007 rate of 63 per 1000 girls.  A small portion of this decrease can be attributed to a change in the way the state demographer calculates total population.

Teen pregnancy rates in North Carolina have consistently decreased since 1991 following a spike in the late 1980s. Pregnancy rates fell across all age, racial and ethnic categories, as well as in all but 25 North Carolina counties. Abortion rates also decreased in all categories.

While teen pregnancy rates declined across the board, significant disparities still exist between racial and ethnic groups and between rural and urban residents. The pregnancy rate among white teens was 47.8 per 1000 girls, while the corresponding rate for minority teens was 77.7. The rate specifically for Hispanic teens was 147.5. North Carolina’s underserved rural counties typically saw higher rates of teen pregnancy.

For additional information:

Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Campaign of North Carolina: www.appcnc.org

NC DHHS Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiatives: www.teenpregnancy.ncdhhs.gov

2008 Pregnancy Statistics: http://www.schs.state.nc.us/SCHS/ or www.appcnc.org

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