Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Colorado teen birth rate and repeat birth rates decline

Colorado Video on Contraceptive Use

More than half of teen moms in Colorado use the most effective methods of birth control to keep from getting pregnant again – far more than women in any of the other 16 states recently surveyed by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. According to state health officials, the growing use of intra-uterine devices (IUDs) and contraceptive implants has contributed to lowering the teen birth rate by a third and cutting the number of repeat births to Colorado teens by nearly half.

Since 2008, teen births in Colorado have declined 34 percent, from 6,079 to 4,122 in 2012. Repeat teen births have dropped 45 percent, from 1,183 in 2008 to 653 in 2012. The overall teen birth rate has plummeted 13 points, from 37.3 per 1,000 teens in 2008 to 23.9 births per 1,000 teens in 2012.

“Teenage moms and their babies face significant health, social and economic problems, especially with repeat births,” said Dr. Chris Urbina, executive director and chief medical officer of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. “Using these ‘forgettable’ forms of birth control reduces the number of unwanted pregnancies and unhealthy babies in Colorado.”

IUDs and implants are considered “forgettable” because, unlike other methods, women don’t have to remember to use them monthly, daily or before sex. However, many teenage mothers risk unintended repeat pregnancies because they either are unaware of these methods or can’t afford them. IUDs and implants can cost thousands of dollars and often are not covered by health insurance.

The CDC studied pregnancies during the postpartum period and found 87 percent of teenage mothers used some sort of birth control, but only 20 percent used the long-acting reversible contraceptives considered most effective. Other common methods of birth control, in declining order of effectiveness, include birth control pills, condoms and diaphragms.

“It’s a vicious circle,” said Greta Klinger, family planning supervisor at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. “Teen moms who can least afford another child often cannot afford the best birth control.”

The Colorado Initiative to Reduce Unintended Pregnancy, a consortium of public and private health partners, has addressed this issue by providing free or low-cost IUDs and implants to low-income women throughout Colorado. The health department’s Family Planning Initiative distributes most of these devices through its 64 statewide Title X clinics.

Nearly half of all Colorado pregnancies are unintended. Reducing these unintended pregnancies is one of Colorado’s 10 Winnable Battles. Unintended pregnancies cost Medicaid in Colorado $160 million annually and are linked to birth defects, maternal depression and elective abortions. Research shows teen mothers are less likely to earn a high school diploma, and children born to teen moms are more likely to experience child abuse, poor health and lower educational attainment.

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