April 13, 2012
Concord, NH - New Hampshire is proud to once again have the lowest teen birth rate in the country. According to data from the National Center for Health Statistics, New Hampshire’s teen birth rate for 2010 was 15.6 per 1,000 births (among 15- to 19-year-olds). About three-quarters of those teen births occur among 18- to 19-year-olds.
Throughout the nation, teen birth rates are at a historic low of 34.3 births per 1,000 women aged 15–19. In fact, fewer babies were born to teenagers in 2010 in the United States than in any year since 1946. Teen births peaked in 1991, but have since declined steadily.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that there has been an increase in teen pregnancy prevention messages aimed at adolescents, and teens have made choices in the past 20 years to be less sexually active and use more contraception when they do have sex. In 2011, 47.5% of New Hampshire high school seniors reported ever having sex on the Youth Risk Behavior Survey, similar to, although slightly higher than, the 2009 national rate of 46%. But in New Hampshire, among those teens who do have sex, a greater proportion of them use contraception to prevent pregnancy than do teens in the rest of the country.
Although the overall New Hampshire teen birth rate is low, just looking at the State average does not tell the whole story. There are New Hampshire cities and counties where teen birth rates are much higher. Nine percent of births in Manchester were to teen mothers in 2007, which equals a teen birth rate of 42.3 per 1,000, which is higher than the national rate. Sullivan County is among the counties with a higher than the State rate of teen births at 30.6 per 1,000 births.
“Teens have lots of questions about sex,” said Dr. José Montero, Director of Public Health at the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), “and we know that the source they’d most like to go to for answers is their parents. Age-appropriate conversations about healthy relationships should begin early in a child's life and continue through adolescence. New Hampshire should be proud of its families and teens for the choices they have made.”
The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Public Health Services (DPHS) will soon work with community-based agencies in Manchester and Sullivan County to support the Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP). PREP will replicate evidence-based effective programs that have been shown to help reduce sexual activity, increase contraceptive use in already sexually active youth, and ultimately reduce teen pregnancy. In addition, PREP works with teens to build important life skills such as financial literacy, education and employment preparation skills, and healthy parent/child communication skills. PREP compliments other teen pregnancy-prevention initiatives already supported by DPHS and communities, such as abstinence education and access to comprehensive reproductive health care.