|Contact: Kathy Wick, Better Together Hennepin, 612-543-3020
Contact: Mike Opat, Hennepin County Board, 612-348-7881
Contact: Carolyn Marinan, Communications, 612-348-5969
Teen birth rates decrease again in 2016
Teen births in Hennepin County decreased 12.4 percent last year, at a rate higher than the 11.3 percent statewide decrease.
According to an analysis of birth records released last month, 418 females ages 15 to 19 gave birth in 2016, compared to 477 in 2015.
The 2016 birth rate of 11.7 births per 1,000 females ages 15 to 19 makes for a 66 percent decline in teen birth rates in the past ten years. The number of repeat births to teens is also at a 10-year low: 13.4 percent of all teen births.
Decrease is no coincidence
Kathy Wick, manager of Better Together Hennepin, the county’s teen pregnancy prevention program, said the continued decline is exciting but not coincidental.
“This has been a long-term focus of Hennepin County, to arm youth to make informed decisions about their sexual health, and to assure access to reproductive health care and caring, approachable adults who can answer their questions and provide guidance,” she said.
Hennepin County partners with a variety of schools, clinics and non-profits on teen pregnancy prevention. Partners include the Annex Teen Clinic, Brooklyn Center Health Resource Center, Minneapolis Health Department, Planned Parenthood and NorthPoint Health & Wellness Center.
Decreases in teen births span all racial demographics; however, there remain pronounced disparities. Compared to white youth, the teen birth rate is eight to 13 times higher for African Americans, Native Americans and Latinos. The persistence of disparities demonstrates a continued need for strategically-placed resources.
Wick said it is especially encouraging that teen birth rates continue to decline in cities with the highest teen birth rates, including Brooklyn Park, Richfield, Robbinsdale and Minneapolis. These are four of the five cities where Hennepin County programs have focused their efforts. In Brooklyn Center, the fifth city, the teen birth rate rose 7.5 percent between 2015 and 2016.
The news about continued reductions in teen birth rates came shortly after an announcement from the Trump Administration that it cut over $213 million in funding to the Health and Human Services Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program. Better Together Hennepin’s $1.5 million grant – along with the grants of 80 similar initiatives across the country – was cut from five years to three and will end June 30, 2018.
Programs the county sponsors use a combination of federal, state and county funding. They include evidence-based sexuality education in schools, supports for youth-friendly health care and screening, positive youth development programming and communications training for parents that prepares them to act as trusted sources of sexual health information. Loss of federal funding will have a significant impact on the continuation of some of these programs.
Hennepin County Commissioner Mike Opat said that the work the county has done to help teenagers put off having children is an investment in the future – for teens and for taxpayers.
“The Hennepin County Board has long realized that teen pregnancies are devastating to all concerned,” he said. “We have made prevention our priority and the work is paying off, but we have more to do. Outperforming the rest of the state is nice, but all indicators tell us that children born to adults who are ready to accept the awesome responsibility of being a parent are more likely to thrive.”
The financial side
Children born to teen mothers are at greater risk for infant death, childhood health problems, cognitive and emotional delays, school struggles, a continued cycle of teen parenthood, and multi-generational poverty. In fact, more than half of all human services spending in Minnesota goes to families that began with a teen parent, costing taxpayers tens of millions of dollars and multiples of that in lost potential for young people.
For more information, visit the Better Together Hennepin webpage at http://www.hennepin.us/bettertogether.
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