The San Antonio Metropolitan Health District’s preliminary report on Bexar County’s teen birth rates once again showed a decrease with 2,590 births to females ages 19 and younger in 2013. Despite the decrease, Bexar County’s teen pregnancy rate is still 50% higher than the U.S. national average.
This new report marks the progress San Antonio continues to make in reducing teen pregnancy, said Cary Clack, director of communications for Mayor Ivy Taylor. The teen birth rate has declined by 42% since 2000, a difference of more than 1,000 teen births per year.
“That translates to millions of dollars in savings in health care costs but even more important translates to young men and women who have greater opportunity, and that affects the entire community,” said Dr. Thomas Schlenker, director of Metro Health.
More and more of San Antonio's youth continue their education and fewer babies are born to children – which reduces the cost to our community and fewer families live in poverty, Clack said.
Health care, incarceration and loss of revenue contributed to the cost of teen childbearing in 2013 for Bexar County, estimated to cost $58 million in tax dollars.
Only 38% of teen girls who have a child before the age of 18 earn a high school diploma. This contributes to teen mothers relying more on public assistance, and having children who have “poorer educational, behavioral, and health outcomes” than those born to older parents according to the U.S Department of Health and Human Services.
Of the 2,590 teen births in 2013, which averages to 50 births a week, 529 were to mothers who already had at least one child. This was a decrease of 2% from 2010.
Despite remaining well above the national average for teen births, Metro Health reported that San Antonio continued in its progress with a 21% decline in teen births from 2010 to 2013.
“In 2011 the San Antonio Teen Pregnancy Prevention Collaborative achieved our original (SA2020) goal of reducing teen pregnancy by 15%. They’ve set a new goal and are committed to reducing the teen pregnancy rate by 25% by 2020,” said Jessica Rios, health and fitness partnership manager for SA2020.
This new goal highlighted the work done by the San Antonio Teen Pregnancy Prevention Collaborative which includes Project WORTH.
The collaborative implements evidence based programs and empowers parents to prevent teen pregnancy, said Rios. It also utilizes community assets to provide health care, teen support and development.
The collaborative reached more than 6,100 teens with evidence-based teen pregnancy prevention programs in 2013. At the end of 2014, the collaborative will reach more 7,600 teens, said Jonis, a teen presenter for Project WORTH.
“I want to thank (those who) stand up with a certain amount of courage and say that this is the right thing that we’re doing because there are always voices of opposition," Schlenker said to parents, teachers, principals, superintendents, and community members. "We depend on not only the committed young people but also the parents and educators who are backing them up. We will keep pushing forward on this to make progress every year to be as good as the national average."