LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Drop in teen birth rate is victory for preventive care

Thursday, September 12, 2013 | 5:24 p.m. CDT

Tension in today's political and economic realms is undeniable, but something I think most people can agree on, regardless of political or religious affiliation, is that a high teen birth rate is undesirable.

According to the recent "National Vital Statistics Reports" published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, we see a lot of overall improvement, such as decreased preterm births (fell for the sixth straight year) and declines in low birth weights. Perhaps the most striking statistic, however, is the 6 percent decline in birth rates for teenagers 15 to 19 years old. We have not seen this sizable of a decline since 2007, and the birth rate for this age range has dropped almost one-third since 2007. More encouragingly, it has dropped by more than half since 1991. 

What is the takeaway here? We're talking, and they're listening! Sex education and access to birth control are having statistically significant impacts on our at-risk youth. It is not that we aren’t having babies anymore; in fact, the birth rate for women in their older 20s and 30s is increasing. We’re just getting smarter about how and when we have children, thanks to the education and resources available. This is just another victory for preventive care.

Below, I have included the link to the CDC report in case you are interested in this fascinating data and emerging trends.

Dina van der Zalm is an MU student studying social work.

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