Teen Pregnancy Prevention a Year-Round Effort
When we’re teenagers, life is about milestones. We’re finishing one grade then the next, getting our summers off, learning to drive, going to prom, graduating from high school and on and on. But for New Mexico’s teen parents, all of that comes second to 2 a.m. feedings, changing diapers, parenting and the constant strain of decisions usually reserved for adults. Teen pregnancy can be a problem!
The good news is the number of teen pregnancies has been on the decline in New Mexico for years now, and the New Mexico Department of Health is working today to continue that trend into tomorrow.
Since 2000, the teen birth rate in New Mexico for 15-to-17 year olds has declined by 43 percent. That’s comparable to the national decline of 48 percent.
While 2013 numbers are still being compiled, we know the 2012 New Mexico teen birth rate was 22.7 for every 1,000 15-17 year old girls. This is not only still higher than the 2012 national rate of 14.1 of 1,000, but it also reflects problems unique to our state versus others in the US.
Nationally and in New Mexico, birth rates for New Mexico Hispanic and American Indian teens are higher than for other groups. Factors influencing New Mexico’s high teen birth rate are a diverse population, poverty rates, rural population, high school dropout rates, and access to services.
The Department of Health works to lower those rates on multiple fronts. Prevention programs include:
- The BrdsNBz, is a text messaging service in which teens can text “NMTeen” and parents can text “NMParent” to 66746 to opt-in to the service. From there, they can text their sexual health questions to 66746 and get medically accurate answers within 24 hours. New Mexico in 2013 became the second state in the country to offer this service statewide.
- The Teen Outreach Program (TOP), which reaches teens in grades 6 through 12 has been proven successful in preventing teen pregnancy and increasing academic success by increasing life skills on a number of different topics, including healthy relationships, communication, values clarification, examining influences, goal setting, decision making, sexual health, and community service learning.
- ¡Cuídate! is a Hispanic culturally-based program reducing HIV risk among teens ages 13 to 18. ¡Cuídate! means “take care of yourself” in Spanish and emphasizes risk reduction strategies such as sexual abstinence and correct condom use through interactive activities;
- Raíces y Alas (Roots and Wings in Spanish) is an education workshop which works with the most important educator of sexual health for teens – their parents. The skill building program helps parents learn how to have more conversations with their teens about sex and sexual health and make those conversations positive. And beyond education programs, the New Mexico Department of Health provides access to confidential family planning services at low- or no-cost in 94 sites at Public Health Offices, Primary Care Clinics & School-Based Health Centers across the state.
Every public dollar invested in helping women avoid unintended pregnancies saves $5.68 in Medicaid expenditures that otherwise would have gone to pregnancy-related care. The progress New Mexico has made in reducing teen childbearing saved taxpayers an estimated $64 million in 2010 alone compared to the costs they would have incurred had the rates not fallen, according to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.
For more information visit the Family Planning section of our website. You can search for family planning clinics in your area using the “Find a family planning clinic” locater from the Office of Population Affairs. The difference you can make in you or your teen’s life is just a click away.
We would be happy to provide additional information about this press release. Simply contact David Morgan at 575-528-5197 (Office) or 575-649-0754 (Mobile) with your questions.