Thursday, October 22, 2015

Colorado’s teen birth rate continues to plummet

DENVER—Colorado’s teen birth rate has been cut nearly in half during the first five years of the Colorado Family Planning Initiative.

According to new data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, both the birth rate and abortion rate for women ages 15-19 fell 48 percent from 2009 through 2014. Previous 2009-2013 data showed a 40 percent drop in teen births and a 35 percent decline in teen abortions.

“This initiative continues to prove its effectiveness,” said Dr. Larry Wolk, health department executive director and chief medical officer. “Thousands of low-income Colorado women now are able to pursue their dreams of higher education and a good career and choose when and whether to start a family.”

Three of four teen pregnancies in Colorado are unintended. Research shows children born to mothers who did not intend to have children are more likely to experience child abuse, poor health and educational challenges. Teen mothers are less likely to graduate from high school or earn as much as women who wait to have children.

The initiative has provided training, operational support and 36,000 long-acting reversible contraceptives - IUDs and implants - to low-income women in Title X family planning health centers across Colorado. IUD and implant use among family planning clients grew from 4.5 percent before the initiative began to 29.6 percent in 2014. Nationally, only 7.2 percent of women use these most effective forms of birth control.

The increased use of long-acting reversible contraceptives also benefitted Colorado women ages 20-24, dropping their birth rate by 20 percent and their abortion rate by 18 percent from 2009 through 2014. Medicaid avoided approximately $79 million in birth-related costs from 2010 to 2012, making the initiative’s return on investment $5.85 for every dollar spent.

The Colorado Family Planning Initiative has been recognized by state and national health organizations and has positioned Colorado as a leader in family planning. However, the initiative has ongoing funding challenges, specific to services and devices not covered by insurance and available public funding sources. When private funding ran out in June 2015, several of Colorado’s leading foundations stepped in to provide $2.2 million in bridge funding to support the program. The health department will look in the coming year for more sustainable funding.

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