Dallas Leads Nation in Repeat Teen Births, Study Finds

Robert T. Garrett, Dallas Morning News, September 1, 2009

Dallas leads the nation in the percentage of teen births that aren’t the mother’s first delivery, a nonpartisan national research group finds in a new report.

Dallas had the highest percentage of teen births that are repeat births–28 percent–among 73 major U.S. cities in 2006, the latest year for which city-level data are available.

Texas has the highest repeat rate of any state–23 percent of teen births. And five of the 15 worst-ranked cities are in Texas, according to the group Child Trends, in a report to be released Wednesday.

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Child Trends, a nonpartisan Washington-based group that tries to improve child well-being by providing research to policymakers, teases out repeat teen births from vital statistics gathered by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Texas had the highest repeat rate of any state for the sixth consecutive year. Among seven metro areas, Arlington had the lowest rate, 19 percent, while Fort Worth’s 25-percent rate was in a tie nationally for seventh-highest. Also making the list were San Antonio with 26 percent, and Houston and Austin, both with repeat teen birth rates of 24 percent.

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Of the city’s 3,739 teen births in 2006, the report says, 64 percent were to Hispanics, 30 percent to blacks and 6 percent to whites. Although most were to 18- or 19-year-olds, there were 72 to girls 14 or younger.

The 28 percent repeat birth rate means nearly 1,050 of the babies born to local girls that year weren’t the girls’ first.

Abstinence-only issue

Cathie Adams, president of Texas Eagle Forum, a social conservative group, said the statistics reflect how Dallas is a magnet for immigrants.

Adams said an abstinence message needs to be pushed in the public schools in a variety of languages.

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