Stillwater News Press

Local Columnists

May 10, 2014

Live Well 05-11-14

Teenage pregnancy remains problem for Oklahoma

May is national Teen Pregnancy Prevention month.

According to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, Oklahoma ranks 49th in teen birth rate, 42nd in teen pregnancy rate and 36th in unplanned pregnancy rate.

This means that in 2011 6,025 births to girls age 15-19 were completed and $169 million was spent on teen childbearing in Oklahoma alone. The good news is this is a 34 percent decline since 1991.

Despite the historic declines, teen pregnancies still account for 3 out of 10 births before age 20 and there are numerous reasons, beyond financial ones, that should be alarming to us as a society.

The impact of teen pregnancy is often a social issue whereas critical issues such as overall child well-being, responsible fatherhood, health issues, education, child welfare and risky behavior are of concern.

Teen pregnancy should not only be viewed as a reproductive matter. Only 38 percent of girls who have a baby before age 20 will receive a high-school diploma. Daughters of teen mothers are three times more likely to become a teen mother themselves. Teen mothers are nearly twice as likely to forego prenatal care during the first trimester as their adult counterparts.

A teenage mother is at greater risk than women over 20 for pregnancy complications such as anemia, premature labor and high blood pressure. Adolescents still require strict nutritional consumption themselves and can have delivery complications because of their small stature.

By preventing teen pregnancy, we can significantly improve problems with poverty, child abuse and/or neglect, father absences, low-birth weights, school failures and poor preparation for the workforce (The National Campaign, 2014).

Seventy-three percent of adults think policy makers who are opposed of abortion should be in strong support of birth control. Regardless of your political stance on birth control or abortion, the facts are there regarding the effects of teen pregnancy. Education starts at home. Information regarding this topic can be found at www.thenationalcampaign.org.

Pamela Stokes is nurse manager at Oklahoma State University Health Services.

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