JEFFERSON-Ashe County’s teen pregnancy rate is on the decline.
According to a five-year study, the county’s rate for pregnancies between 15 and 19 years of age has decreased by 17.7 percent since 2010. Altogether, there were 27 teen pregnancies locally in 2015. This means that Ashe County is ranked No. 28 out of 100 counties statewide. The report also found that 25.9 percent of these women fell under the category of “Repeat Pregnancies.”
Additionally, 91.3 percent of these pregnancies were documented by 18 or 19 year olds. Six girls between the age of 15 and 17 were also pregnant during this same time period.
In terms of sexual health, there were 25 confirmed cases of Chlamydia from all reported ages in 2015.
Neighboring Watauga County reported 18 teen pregnancies in 2015. Wilkes County had 92 confirmed pregnancies that year and 167 cases of Chlamydia and eight cases of Gonorrhea. Additionally, Wilkes had one new HIV case.
Ashe County is not alone in its quest to curb teenage pregnancy.
Teen pregnancy and childbearing are at historic lows and there has been impressive progress on both fronts in all 50 states.
According to thenationalcampaign.org, the teen birth rate in North Carolina declined 66 percent between 1991 and 2015. Even so, in 2014 there were 8,280 births to teens. Most teen births in North Carolina (71 percent) are to older teens (age 18-19). It is also the case that 16 percent of all teen births were to teens who already had a child. The public cost of teen childbearing in 2010 totaled $325 million, according to the website. Teen birth rates have fallen for all racial and ethnic groups, and in some cases the gap in teen birth rates by race/ethnicity has narrowed, but disparities remain.
The teen pregnancy rate, which includes all pregnancies rather than just those that resulted in a birth, has also fallen steeply, by 57 percent between 1988 and 2011 (the most recent data available). As of 2011 there were 16,800 pregnancies among teens age 15 to 19 in North Carolina, according to thenationalcampaign.org.
When looking at women in North Carolina overall, not just teens, 54 percent of all pregnancies are described by women themselves as unplanned. In 2010, public spending for unplanned pregnancies in North Carolina totaled an estimated $858 million.
Reach Jesse Campbell at (336) 846-7164.