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Teen Pregnancy Continues Decline in Tennessee

May is National Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month
Wednesday, May 30, 2018 | 10:16am

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Health is observing National Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month in communities across the state this May. National Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month is designed to raise awareness about the impacts of teen pregnancy and ways to prevent it.

“We are moving in the right direction in Tennessee,” said TDH Assistant Commissioner for Family Health and Wellness Morgan McDonald, MD. “Though many factors may contribute to teen pregnancies, the positive work being done illustrates education and public health interventions make a difference. We have seen that when teens have access to information about preventing pregnancy, our teen pregnancy rates decrease.”

Consistent with national trends, Tennessee’s teen pregnancy rates per 1,000 females declined from 49 in 2013 to 32.5 in 2016. The most recent national data available is from 2013, when the teen pregnancy rate in the U.S. was 43 per 1,000 females.

The Tennessee Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Program works to prevent unplanned adolescent pregnancies through a comprehensive, community-wide, collaborative effort that promotes abstinence, self-respect, constructive life options and responsible decision making about sexuality, healthy relationships and the future.

“Tennessee should be proud of its teens, families and communities for the positive choices they have made,” said TAPPP Program Director Amber Jackson, SRAS. “Age-appropriate conversations about healthy relationships should begin with both boys and girls early in a child's life and continue through young adulthood, and we can help parents and caregivers learn to feel prepared and confident in having those conversations.”

Despite these successes, teen pregnancy remains a significant problem in Tennessee. According to Power to Decide, adolescent parenthood is linked to many negative consequences for mothers, fathers and their children. Compared to those who delay childbearing, adolescent mothers are more likely to drop out of school, remain unmarried and live in poverty. Their children are more likely to be born at a low birth weight, grow up poor, live-in single-parent households, experience abuse and neglect and enter the child welfare system.

TDH has adopted a broad-based approach to providing services to the community to reduce teen pregnancy. Focus areas include implementing evidence-based, medically accurate and age appropriate abstinence education programs; increasing high school graduation rates; reducing the rate of repeat pregnancies; reducing overall teen pregnancy rates; and improving and fostering self-sufficiency. Such programs are designed to help teenagers develop protective factors to avoid teen pregnancy and childbirth, including knowledge of sexual issues, HIV and other sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy (including methods of prevention); personal values about healthy relationships and abstinence; perception of peer norms and behavior about dating; and communication with parents or other adults about contraception.

Learn more about teen pregnancy prevention programs and services:
• Tennessee Department of Health Adolescent Pregnancy Program: www.tn.gov/health/health-program-areas/fhw/mch-tappp.html
• U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Teen Pregnancy and Childbearing: www.hhs.gov/ash/oah/resources-and-training/tpp-and-paf-resources/index.html
• The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: www.cdc.gov/TeenPregnancy/AboutTeenPreg.htm#resource 
• Power to Decide Resource Library: https://powertodecide.org/what-we-do/information/resource-library

The mission of the Tennessee Department of Health is to protect, promote and improve the health and prosperity of people in Tennessee. TDH has facilities in all 95 counties and provides direct services for more than one in five Tennesseans annually as well as indirect services for everyone in the state, including emergency response to health threats, licensure of health professionals, regulation of health care facilities and inspection of food service establishments. Learn more about TDH services and programs at www.tn.gov/health.