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Teen pregnancies down statewide

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Think your teenagers aren't listening when you have "the talk?" Declining teen pregnancies in Minnesota indicate some kids are paying attention.

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Teenwise Minnesota reported the number of teen mothers fell 14 percent between 2010 and 2011. Education and human services are credited as major reasons for the drop. A 16.5 percent decrease was reported for the 18 to 19-year-old group alone, who are actually adults.

There were 25 pregnancies in teens younger than age 19 reported in Douglas County in 2010 and 20 births. Twenty-seven babies were born to teen girls in neighboring Todd County that year. "Teens" are between the ages of 15 to 19 for most of Teenwise's studies.

Birth rates were measured at a per 1,000 teen girls rate for Teenwise statistics. The statewide teen birth rate, based on this calculation, is approximately 19 births per 1,000 girls, a 50 percent dive from Minnesota's peak of 36.5 in 1990.

However, the number of births is not representative of the number of actual pregnancies. There were 59 teen pregnancies per 1,000 in 1990 and almost 30 recorded in 2010 when there were 22.4 births, meaning not all babies were born.

In 2010, 5,351 females between ages 15 to 19 and 89 girls younger than age 15 became pregnant in Minnesota. Of those girls, 4,023 15 to 19 year olds delivered babies as did 47 girls younger than 15. Nationally, 34.3 15 to 19-year-olds delivered babies.

SEXUAL ACTIVITY

A poll of 9th and 12th graders provided some insight to the sexual behavior of adolescents and young adults in the county. Ninth graders are having sex in this community. Sixteen percent of freshmen males and 14 percent of females, and 35 percent of senior males and 49 percent of females said they have had sex.

In each category of kids, contraception use was highest with senior females and lowest with freshmen males. Condom use was irregular with 61 percent of 9th grade girls saying they always use a condom and 37 percent of senior males saying they rarely or never use condoms.

Despite the lack of condom usage, 39 percent of 9th grade males and 38 percent of 9th grade females had never talked with a partner about protecting themselves from sexually transmitted infections and diseases. Seniors reported 51 percent of males and 32 percent of females avoiding the discussion.

In 2010, there were 5,090 15 to 19-year-olds recorded as having contracted chlamydia, an increase of 7 percent from the prior year. Teenwise reported that although teens only account for 7 percent of Minnesota's population, they made up 30 percent of chlamydia and 26 percent of gonorrhea cases reported in 2010.

For more information on the Teenwise Minnesota study, visit www.moappp.org.

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Crystal Dey

Crystal Dey is a staff reporter for the Echo Press. Originally from Minnesota’s Iron Range, Dey worked for newspapers in North Dakota, Florida and Connecticut before returning to her home state to join the Echo Press in October 2011. Dey studied Mass Communications at Minnesota State University Moorhead with an emphasis in Online Journalism. Follow Staff Reporter Crystal Dey on Twitter @Crystal_Dey.

(320) 763-1233
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