While relatively high, state’s teen pregnancy rate is falling

Oct. 25, 2013 @ 05:01 AM

It’s not just Lee County where the teen pregnancy rate is dropping. The state rate has gone down for several years, even though though it’s still one of the highest in the country.

But at 39.6 pregnancies per 1,000 teen girls in 2012, North Carolina is on target to reach the goal of the state’s only nonprofit dedicated solely to curbing teen pregnancy, the Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Campaign, that wants to lower the state’s rate to 34.8 by 2020. On its website, the group says that change would save North Carolina taxpayers about $500,000 over a decade by cutting the number of teen moms by the thousands.

“These are the short-term benefits,” the group said of the half-billion in projected savings. “The bigger impact is in the long-term. Teen pregnancy has an impact that lasts for generations. Children of teen parents are more likely to struggle in school, be incarcerated and become teen parents themselves.”

The vast majority of the teens who became pregnant in North Carolina last year eventually gave birth — for every 1,000 girls from 15 to 19, about 40 got pregnant and about 32 gave birth. It’s unclear exactly how many are raised by their mothers, but the Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Campaign said children born to a teen mother are often raised in poverty, struggle in school and become teen parents themselves, thus continuing the cycle.

And in Lee County, last year saw black, white and Hispanic teens all getting pregnant more often than their peers statewide. More than one in four pregnant teens in Lee County were on at least their second pregnancy, which was also slightly higher than the state average.

At 16th with a rate of 54.1 pregnancies per 1,000 teen women, Lee County had the highest rate in the local area. Moore County ranked 49th in the state with a rate of 42.5, Harnett County ranked 54th with a rate of 41.5 and Chatham County ranked 81st with a rate of 26.2.