Number of teen pregnancies in county falls sharply

The ranking of Greene County as having the highest teen pregnancy rate in the state in 2010 was a call to action for healthcare providers, schools and community groups.

Data recently released by the Iowa Department of Public Health’s vital statistics division shows the effort has paid off. Data for 2014 shows a 60 percent decline in the number of births to Greene County mothers ages 15-19. “This gives our youth an opportunity to finish their education and pursue goals that might otherwise be elusive,” said Peg Dohrer, assistant health services director for New Opportunities, serving Greene, Carroll, Guthrie, Audubon, Calhoun and Pocahontas counties.

According to IDPH data, there were 14 teen births in Greene County in 2009, 17 in 2010, 11 in 2011, 10 in 2012, and 13 in 2014. The number was “unreportable” for 2014, meaning there were five or fewer teen births.

New Opportunities Community Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Program staff contends that a combination of accurate sexual health education in the middle and high schools, increased access to healthcare, and collaboration with other community providers is the key to reducing the teen birth rate.

Program staff cautions that progress must continue. “We continue to feel that teens need more opportunities to engage in prosocial activities at the local level and we need to continue to promote good communication between youth and their trusted adults,” Dohrer said.  That includes school staff emphasizing the importance of open and honest communication.

Persons who would like information on the new teen pregnancy data or how to discuss reproductive health with their children can call New Opportunities at 712-792-9266 or visit newopp.org.

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