Programs Target High Birth Rate Among Hispanic Teens

Leah Rae and Candice Ferrette, Journal News (Westchester County), January 6, 2008

There’s been a long-term decline in teen pregnancy for every ethnic group, but growing efforts are being made to address an underlying trend: Hispanic girls have by far the highest rate of teenage births in the state and the nation.

Bilingual counseling is an increasing part of programs aimed at keeping girls in high school during and after their pregnancies.

At Port Chester High School, a support group helps teenage girls manage day care, breast-feeding, and emotional and family issues so that they can continue studying. Pregnant and mothering students participate in weekly meetings at the school.

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About half of Hispanic teenagers are likely to become pregnant before age 20, according to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. The risk is three in 10 among teenagers overall.

The disparities are greater in the statistics on teen births. In New York in 2005, the teen birth rate for Hispanic girls was 59 per 1,000, compared to 40 for African-American girls and 14 for non-Hispanic whites. The statistics were compiled by teenpregnancy.org.

Those rates have fallen markedly since 1990 for every group, but the decline is not as dramatic for Hispanic girls as for others.

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