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NM’s teen birthrate continues to decline

Albuquerque Journal - 11/17/2017

Teen births fell in 2016, continuing a steep decline that began in 2007, the New Mexico Department of Health reported on Thursday.

Births to teenage girls in New Mexico are now at their lowest level in decades, the NMDOH said.

Nevertheless, New Mexico still has among the highest teen birthrates in the nation, NMDOH Secretary Lynn Gallagher said in a news release.

The teen birthrate for ages 15 to 19 was 29.4 per 1,000 females in 2016; the teen birthrate for ages 15 to 17 was 16.9 per 1,000 females in 2016.

The reasons for the continued decline are access to family planning services, sex education programs and contraception, she said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the states with the highest age 15-19 birthrates per 1,000 births, based on 2015 statistics for all races, are Arkansas, with 38.0 births; Mississippi and Oklahoma, with 34.8 births; and New Mexico and Texas, with 34.6 births.

The states with the lowest age 15-19 births per 1,000, are Massachusetts, with 9.4 births; New Hampshire, with 10.9 births; and Connecticut, with 10.1 births.

Gallagher specifically pointed to NMDOH’s Family Planning Program, which provides access to confidential, low- or no-cost family planning services through public health offices, community clinics and school-based health centers. In addition, as part of the Family Planning Program, areas of the state that have a shortage of health care providers are being served by telemedicine.

The decline in teen births coincides with the increasing number of teens being served at Title X Family Planning clinics, a federal program enacted in 1970, where teens have chosen long-acting reversible contraception — such as injections, intrauterine devices (IUDs) and subdermal implants — as their primary birth control method, according to the NMDOH.

The Family Planning Program also offers BrdsNBz, a text-messaging system for teens with free, confidential answers to sexual health questions in English or Spanish.

The decline in New Mexico teen births mirrors a national decline over the same period. Still, Gallagher said, the state’s teen birthrate remains too high.

The birthrate for teens ages 15 to 19 fell 14 percent from 2015 to 2016, and 55 percent over the past nine years; births among younger teens, those ages 15 to 17, were down 11 percent from 2015 to 2016, and nearly a 60 percent decrease since 2007.

“While we are making important progress in reducing teen pregnancy and unintended pregnancy in New Mexico, the reality is that too many teens are still having babies,” Gallagher said.


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