Parents play a key role in reducing teen pregnancy

Dr. Sheila Overton, M.D. – Special to the Garden Island

Friday, April 29, 2011

May 4 is National Teen Pregnancy Prevention Day. While recent statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that teen births in the United States have reached an all-time low, this data should not tempt parents, educators, health care providers and community leaders to let down their guard.

Approximately 750,000 teen pregnancies occur annually in the U.S., and roughly 1 in 3 teen girls still gets pregnant before age 20.

Hawai‘i ranks 16th highest in teen pregnancy rates for 15- to 19-year-olds in the U.S., according to the Alan Guttmacher Institute.

The term “teen pregnancy” doesn’t begin to convey the cascade of public health and social problems that occur when teen girls get pregnant. Teen pregnancy is the leading cause of girls dropping out of high school. And, according to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, about 25 percent of teen mothers go on welfare within three years of their child’s birth, often relegating themselves and their children to a life of poverty.

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