Teen pregnancy rate hits record low in Gaston County

GASTONIA – Gaston County’s teen pregnancy rate dropped to a record low for 2010, according to data from the North Carolina State Center for Health Statistics.

The county reported a rate of 59.9 pregnancies per 1,000 girls ages 15 to 19 years old – a total of 405 teen pregnancies – marking the third consecutive year the rate has dropped. The teen pregnancy rate in North Carolina also dropped 11 percent, the biggest drop recorded in a single year, from 56 to 49.7 pregnancies per 1,000 girls.

“Clearly anytime we hear record-low teen pregnancy rates, we’re thrilled,” said Assistant Gaston County Health Director Steve Eaton. “While we’re very encouraged, our numbers are consistently worse than the state’s so we still have a lot of work to do. We hope this is the beginning of a downward trend.”

The health department reported pregnancies among white teenagers at 52.5 per 1,000, black teenagers at 84 per 1,000 and Hispanic teenage girls at 73.3 per 1,000.

The Gaston County Board of Health, along with other community organizations, has named teen pregnancy prevention one of its top public health priorities for Gaston County.

The department’s teen pregnancy prevention and reduction programs include:

• Teen Outreach Program, which works with at-risk youth to help them set goals and teaches comprehensive sex education

• Parents Matter!, a nationally recognized curriculum that teaches parents of fourth- and fifth-graders how to communicate their own family values about sex and sexually activity with their children

• Making Proud Choices, a comprehensive safe-sex program that helps young people make healthy decisions about their futures

• Teen Parent Program, which serves first-time pregnant teens and teen moms by helping them stay in school

• A teen clinic, which offers free gynecological exams, contraceptives, testing and sexual transmitted disease counseling.

The department also is a partner in the Gaston Youth Connected initiative, a $5.8 million Center for Disease Control grant-funded project of the Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Campaign of North Carolina. The initiative aims to reduce teen pregnancy rates by 10 percent by 2015.

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