Teen Birth Rates Down 20 Percent in Wisconsin
Madison, Wisconsin - Teen birth rates declined steadily across Wisconsin during the first decade of this century, with rates the lowest in wealthy counties such as Ozaukee and the highest in some of the poorest counties, Menominee and Milwaukee.
The analysis also showed differences among racial and ethnic groups. Black teens showed the largest decrease, with teen births dropping by a third between 2000 and 2010. White births dropped by 26 percent, but American Indian teen births increased by 21 percent and births to Hispanic mothers increased by 30 percent.
“It’s a mixed picture,” says study author Dr. Patrick Remington, associate dean for public health in the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. “Certainly the efforts to reduce teen pregnancy in the black community have been working, but those rates are still four times greater than the rates among white teens - and we’re seeing rates for other minority groups go up.”
The study estimated that an additional 1,600 babies would have been born to Wisconsin teen mothers ages 15 to 19 during that decade, had the rates not declined from 35.5 per 1,000 teenage girls in 2000 to 28.3 births in 2010. Nationally, state rates range from 65.7 per thousand female teens in Mississippi in 19.8 in New Hampshire.
Remington says reducing the rate is important to public health, because babies born to teenage moms are at risk for more pregnancy complications, lower birth weight, and higher rates of premature delivery and infant death.
“We also know the effects of a teenage pregnancy are long-lasting to the family, and include higher rates of poverty and lower levels of educational attainment for both the mother and the child,” Remington says.
Remington and co-author Molly Layde, a student in the UW School of Nursing, also found significant variations in teen birth rates among Wisconsin counties, ranging from a low of 7.8 births per 1,000 female teens in Ozaukee County to a high of 114 births per 1,000 teens in Menominee County.
The 10 counties with the best, or lowest, teen birth rates were Ozaukee, Pierce, Waukesha, Iron, St. Croix, Florence Washington, Calumet, Price and Dunn counties. The counties with the highest rates were Menominee, Milwaukee, Adams, Sawyer, Racine, Forest, Rock, Kenosha, Waushara and Juneau counties.
“We already know a lot about ways to prevent teen pregnancies - the challenge now is to continue the progress that we’ve seen and reduce the disparities in teen pregnancy rates between Wisconsin’s communities,” Remington says.
The study was published in the August issue of the Journal of the Wisconsin Medical Society.
Date Published: 08/22/2013