State achieves 2020 teen pregnancy goal 6 years early
DURHAM, N.C. (January 26, 2016) – North Carolina’s teen pregnancy rate fell 8% in 2014, hitting a record low for a 7th consecutive year, according to new data provided by the North Carolina State Center for Health Statistics and released by SHIFT NC (Sexual Health Initiatives For Teens). Statewide, 10,328 girls ages 15-19 experienced a pregnancy in 2014.
The 2014 teen pregnancy rate was 32.3 per 1,000 15-19-year-old girls. In other words, the newly released data shows that only 3.2% of 15-19-year-old girls in North Carolina experienced a pregnancy in 2014.
Other highlights from the newly released data include:
- Reduced pregnancies among girls of all racial and ethnic backgrounds, helping to minimize some historical disparities. Pregnancies to white, black, and Hispanic teens dropped 7%, 11% and 9%, respectively.
- 75% of counties saw teen pregnancy decrease in 2014.
- North Carolina’s teen pregnancy rate is 69% lower than when it peaked in 1990 at a rate of 105.4 per 1,000 girls ages 15-19.
Nationwide, researchers have attributed teen pregnancy declines to increased use of birth control, the availability of highly effective long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) like IUDs and the Implant, and a slight increase in the average age when teens first engage in sexual intercourse. North Carolina communities have focused on facilitating these trends.
State Exceeds Teen Pregnancy Goal
The newly released teen pregnancy rates show that North Carolina has exceeded a goal it set to reduce teen pregnancy 30% between 2010 and 2020. Between 2010 and 2014, the state reduced teen pregnancy rates by 35%. The goal was created by a statewide team of experts and advocates, and endorsed by more than 65 groups.
“North Carolina has made a lot of smart decisions about how to help young people grow up healthy,” said SHIFT NC CEO Kay Phillips. “This remarkable achievement is the result of a lot of combined effort – whether it’s improving health education with the 2009 Healthy Youth Act or one of the many local initiatives designed to connect young people to information, healthcare, and support.”
Local Initiatives Build on New Lessons Learned
Local communities have increasingly focused on using evidence-based approaches to address teen pregnancy, and have built on each other’s lessons learned. The Gaston Youth Connected initiative, which launched in 2010 and ended in 2015, used a multi-pronged approach to reduce teen pregnancies by nearly 40% and closed the historical gap between white and African American teen pregnancy rates. The initiative, funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Office of Adolescent Health (OAH) and managed by SHIFT NC, focused on implementing evidence-based health education programs, improving the teen-friendliness of health services, helping teens access health care, and mobilizing community support for teen pregnancy prevention.
At least four newly launched initiatives are building on lessons learned from the Gaston Youth Connected initiative. The NC Youth Connected will replicate Gaston Youth Connected in Cumberland and Onslow Counties. Fully funded by the federal Office of Adolescent Health, NC Youth Connected builds on an early investment by the Duke Endowment to mobilize Onslow County leaders to act on teen pregnancy. In Greensboro, the Cone Health Foundation is working to improve healthcare services and access for teens, focusing specifically on increasing the use of LARCs. Every Teen Counts, a new SHIFT NC initiative, will build the capacity of foster care agencies and juvenile detention centers to provide trauma-informed pregnancy prevention services in northeastern North Carolina.
“There is no single solution to helping a young person avoid an unplanned pregnancy,” said Phillips. “Helping communities use proven strategies in education and healthcare – all while engaging community leaders, parents, and teens themselves – that is how we can continue to see our teen pregnancy rates decline.”