Both Louisiana and the nation have experienced declines in teen birth rates over the past decade, and Secretary Rebekah Gee of the Department of Health says that's something to celebrate. Teen girls who become mothers are much less likely to complete high school. Teen fathers also see a decline in graduation rates.
"Fewer teen births means that more of our children will be able to reach for their full potential, complete their education and have a better chance at lifelong success," said Gee.
In 2007, Louisiana's teen birth rate was 55.9 per 1,000 girls aged 15 to 19. The most recent figures from 2014 show that rate is now only 35.56, which is a decline of 36.4 percent. Rates declined especially sharply among black teens, with a greater than 44 percent decline in the number of births to teenage girls.
The benefits of delaying pregnancy expand beyond the parents. According to youth.gov, children born to teens are more likely to:
- have a higher risk for low birth weight and infant mortality;
- have lower levels of emotional support and cognitive stimulation;
- have fewer skills and be less prepared to learn when they enter kindergarten;
- have behavioral problems and chronic medical conditions;
- rely more heavily on publicly funded health care;
- have higher rates of foster care placement;
- be incarcerated at some time during adolescence;
- have lower school achievement and drop out of high school;
- give birth as a teen; and
- be unemployed or underemployed as a young adult.
Through Title X funding, LDH's Bureau of Family Health provided services to over 8,000 Louisianans under the age of 19 in parish health units throughout the state. Services provided through the Title X funding included education and counseling on family planning, STD prevention, resisting sexual coercion and more.
"I'm very proud to applaud the accomplishments of my colleagues and staff at the Bureau of Family Health. Their hard work is clearly paying off for Louisiana and creating a better future for our children," Gee stated. "It's clear that preventing teen pregnancy is both valuable and doable. Our efforts are working, and I hope Louisianans everywhere join me in celebrating this improvement."
The Louisiana Department of Health strives to protect and promote health statewide and to ensure access to medical, preventive and rehabilitative services for all state residents.To learn more about LDH, visit www.dhh.la.gov. For up-to-date health information, news and emergency updates, follow DHH's Twitter account and Facebook.