Friday, May 24th, 2013
Teen birth rates have been declining steadily in recent years, but they now have shown marked declines in virtually every U.S. state, especially in the Mountain states and especially among the Hispanic population, according to a new government report. More from The Associated Press:
All states but West Virginia and North Dakota showed significant drops over five years. But the Mountain States of Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada and Utah saw rates fall by 30 percent or more.
In 22 states, teen Hispanic birth rates plunged at least 40 percent, which was described as “just amazing,” by the report’s lead author, Brady Hamilton of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
What’s driving the declines? No one can say for sure. Experts believe the explanation is complicated and probably varies a bit from state to state. The national figure has been falling since 1991, aside from a brief interruption in 2006 and 2007.
The CDC report released Thursday is based on birth certificates for 2007 through 2011. Last year, the CDC announced the overall improvement in teen births: a record low of 31 births per 1,000 teens ages 15 to 19. That compares with 42 births per 1,000 five years earlier.
Image: United States map, via Shutterstock
Tuesday, April 30th, 2013
Newly released court papers document how a mother in the United Kingdom forced her 14-year-old daughter to become pregnant using syringes of donor sperm, apparently in a desperate attempt to have another child herself. After seven attempts at insemination, the daughter gave birth to a baby boy at age 17. More from Yahoo News:
In a ruling reported for the first time Monday, High Court judge Peter Jackson said the mother had behaved in “a wicked and selfish way” that almost defied belief.
The judge said the woman, an American divorcee living in Britain with three adopted children, hatched the plan after she was prevented from adopting a fourth.
The scheme involved getting her oldest daughter to inseminate herself with syringes of sperm purchased over the Internet from a Denmark-based company, Cryos International.
Jackson said the daughter, identified only as A, “became pregnant at the mother’s request, using donor sperm bought by the mother, with the purpose of providing a fourth child for the mother to bring up as her own.”
In his ruling, the judge quoted the teenager as saying said she was shocked by the suggestion, but thought, “If I do this … maybe she will love me more.”
“My mum is a very determined person and she does her best not to let anything get in her way if she wants it,” the teenager added.
The baby was taken into foster care custody, and the mother is serving a 5-year jail sentence for child cruelty.
Tuesday, February 12th, 2013
Following the trend of recent years and decades, the number of babies born to teenaged mothers fell radically, dropping 8 percent between 2010 and 2011 alone, according to data from the National Center for Health Statistics published in the journal Pediatrics. The rate has dropped 25 percent since 2007, and 49 percent since 1991. More from NBC News:
“There is lots of good news in the report,” said Brady Hamilton, a statistician at the NCHS who led the study.
It’s good news because such births are almost always unplanned and the parents are rarely ready to cope with the responsibility of raising a baby. Teenaged moms are also more likely to have babies of a smaller-than-healthy weight or to have stillborn babies.
The study looks at numbers alone and doesn’t address changes in teen behavior. But other research suggests that teens are more easily able to get birth control, says Laura Lindberg, a senior researcher at the Guttmacher Institute.
“If anyone tells you they know exactly why this has happened, they are lying,” Lindberg said in a telephone interview. “We don’t have all the research and behavioral data in place up to 2011.”
That said, there are more than a few hints, according to Lindberg.
“We have gone from a social norm where you don’t use contraception at first sex to where you do,” she said. “Lots of study shows that using contraception at first sex begins a pattern of using it down the road.”
Other statistics show that teenage sex is only down slightly, although girls and boys both are having sex later in their teens. “In contrast, there is an increase in contraceptive use, particularly hormonal methods,” Lindberg said.
Image: Teenagers with pregnancy test, via Shutterstock
Monday, October 8th, 2012
A new large-scale study has found that access to free contraceptive pills is part of the explanation for well-documented drops in the rates of both teen pregnancy and abortions. The finding comes just before the Obama administration’s health care law takes effect, including provisions that will offer birth control coverage to women nationwide. The Associated Press has more:
When price wasn’t an issue, women flocked to the most effective contraceptives — the implanted options, which typically cost hundreds of dollars up-front to insert. These women experienced far fewer unintended pregnancies as a result, reported Dr. Jeffrey Peipert of Washington University in St. Louis in a study published Thursday.
The effect on teen pregnancy was striking: There were 6.3 births per 1,000 teenagers in the study. Compare that to a national rate of 34 births per 1,000 teens in 2010.
There also were substantially lower rates of abortion, when compared with women in the metro area and nationally: 4.4 to 7.5 abortions per 1,000 women in the study, compared with 13.4 to 17 abortions per 1,000 women overall in the St. Louis region, Peipert calculated. That’s lower than the national rate, too, which is almost 20 abortions per 1,000 women.
In fact, if the program were expanded, one abortion could be prevented for every 79 to 137 women given a free contraceptive choice, Peipert’s team reported in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology.
Image: Birth control pills, via Shutterstock
Wednesday, August 8th, 2012
The new health care law allows parents to insure their children under the parents’ plans until the kids are 26 years old, but the law does not guarantee that that health coverage would apply should the daughters of those parents become pregnant. From The Washington Post:
Group health plans with 15 or more workers are required to provide maternity benefits for employees and their spouses under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978. But other dependents of employees aren’t covered by the law, so companies don’t have to provide maternity coverage for them.
Although hard numbers aren’t available on how many companies don’t provide dependent maternity benefits, “I would say it’s common,” says Dania Palanker, a senior health policy adviser at the National Women’s Law Center. And the number could grow with the recent expansion of coverage to children under age 26, she says.
Dan Priga, who heads the performance audit group for Mercer, a human resources consulting company, estimates that roughly 70 percent of companies that pay their employees’ healthcare claims directly choose not to provide dependent maternity benefits.
In 2008, an estimated 2.8 million women ages 15 through 25 got pregnant, 12 percent of all those in this age group, according to researchers at the National Center for Health Statistics. (That is the most recent year for which there are pregnancy estimates.)
The article also quotes the March of Dimes as saying that the average cost for uncomplicated maternity care (including prenatal care, a routine delivery and three months postpartum care) was $10,652 in 2007.
Image: Pregnant teens, via Shutterstock.