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Teen birth rate inches up locally
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After recording several years of declines, the birth rate for teenagers in Stanislaus County saw a slight increase, according to a new report from the California Department of Public Health.

The rate of teen girls giving birth between the ages of 15 to 19 years was at 35.8 per 1,000 in Stanislaus County in 2012. The rate is up from the 34.5 per 1,000 recorded in 2011. However, it still falls short of the rates of 36.7 and 42 recorded in 2010 and 2009, respectively.
The county's rate continues to remain above the state average of 25.7 births per every 1,000 females ages 15-19.

CDPH studies have shown that delaying childbearing until adulthood can improve both maternal and infant outcomes, as well as increase youth opportunities for educational and career success.

The teen birth rate has steadily been declining since 1991, when it reached a record high of 70.9 births.

"I am very pleased with the positive strides California is making in reducing teen pregnancy," Dr. Ron Chapman, director of the CDPH said. "By encouraging positive and sensible choices for our young men and women, we can inspire our youth to strive for successful futures."

Teen birth rates decreased among all racial and ethnic groups between 2000 and 2012. While Hispanic adolescents continue to have the highest birth rate at 38.9 births per 1,000 females ages 15-19, they also had the greatest decline down from a 77.3 in 2000 - a 49.7 percent drop. From 2000 to 2012, the number of births per 1,000 females ages 15-19 also dropped among African Americans from 59.1 to 30.8, among Whites from 22.3 to 10.2, and among Asians from 15.0 to 5.0.

In 2012, over 10,000 children were born to California mothers ages 15 - 17; an additional 360 were born to mothers under age 15, according to the report.

The Stanislaus County Health Services Agency coordinates the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Collaborative, which is a coalition of local stakeholders working to spread awareness that ultimately decreases the number of teen girls giving birth.

California has a number of programs and policies aimed at preventing adolescent pregnancy and improving outcomes of such pregnancies. Some of the key components of the State's multi-pronged approach include:

• State laws requiring school-based and other state-funded sexuality education to be comprehensive, medically accurate, and age-and culturally-appropriate.

• Community-based education programs that provide sexual health information, skill development, and supportive environments and opportunities for youth.

• Services and supports for expectant and parenting adolescents to empower young families to be successful and thrive.

CDPH funds the Information and Education Program, the Personal Responsibility Education Program authorized through the Affordable Care Act of 2010, and the Adolescent Family Life Program for expectant and parenting adolescents. In addition, the State provides no-cost family planning services to eligible males and females, including youth, through the Family PACT Program.