Tag Archives: teen pregnancy

Population boom: teen and unmarried mothers

Population: n. : the whole number of people or inhabitants in a country or region

More babies were born (4.3 million) in the US in 2007 than any other year in our history. Two particular statistics fly in the face of rhetoric from the religious right:

1. The teen birth rate is up again, for a second year in a row. So much for “abstinence only”.

Even at the low point in 2005, the United States had the highest rates of teenage pregnancy, birth and abortion of any industrialized country. Because teenage births carry higher risks of medical problems and poverty for mother and child, state health agencies, schools and private groups have mounted educational campaigns to deter teenage pregnancy.

2. Forty percent (40%!) of last year’s births – to mothers of all ages – were to single women.  Which leads me to believe that heterosexuals don’t much care about the institution of marriage …  and it has nothing to do with gays marrying (or not).

Along with the boom in birth (less contraceptive use?), we’re seeing a decrease in abortions.

What I want to know is how many of these new babies were really wanted by their mothers? And if many were not wanted, what problems with troubled children are we going to see in a few years?

Another worrisome trend is the continuing increase in C-section use:

In yet another record high, the share of deliveries by Caesarean section reached 32 percent in 2007, up 2 percent from 2006. Experts have repeatedly said some C-sections are not medically necessary and impose excess costs, but the rate has steadily climbed, from 21 percent in 1996.

Not only are C-sections expensive and invasive, but the baby’s long-term health may be jeopardized:

Swiss researchers are reporting in the journal Thorax this month that a Caesarean delivery is linked to a much higher risk for asthma compared with babies born vaginally.

In a study of nearly 3,000 children, the researchers found that 12 percent had been given a diagnosis of asthma by age 8. In that group, those born by C-section were nearly 80 percent more likely than the others to develop asthma. The explanation may be that a vaginal birth “primes” a baby’s immune system by exposing it to various bacteria as it moves through the birth canal.

Pregnant teenhood: Bristol Palin wouldn’t recommend it

Pregnant: n. containing a developing embryo, fetus, or unborn offspring within the body

Bristol Palin did her first interview yesterday (on Fox, where else?) and she made two statements that indicate that Reality has a way of intruding on Ideology, even on a Palin person:

“I like being a mom, I love it. Just seeing him smile and stuff, it’s awesome…It is very challenging but it’s so rewarding…Of course, I wish it would happen in ten years so I could have a job and an education and be, like, prepared and have my own house and stuff… I just hope that people learn from my story and, I don’t know, prevent teen pregnancy I guess… It’s not just the baby part of it that’s hard, it’s that I’m not living for myself anymore I’m living for another human being…I’d like to be an advocate to prevent teen pregnancy because its not a situation you strive for I guess…Kids should just wait–it’s not glamorous at all.”

And actually, “abstinence only” might not be such a great idea after all:

I think abstinence is like, like the…I don’t know how to put it…like the..the main….everyone should be abstinent or whatever, but it’s not realistic at all.”

Like, whatever. Too bad she didn’t figure this out a year or so ago. And nationally the numbers reflect the toll “abstinence only education” has had on the teen birth rate, which is suddenly spiking across the country after fifteen years of steady decline.

The highest teen birth rates are in the South and Southwest; Mississippi is highest with 68.4 per 1,000, followed by New Mexico, with a rate of 64.1 and Texas, with 63.1. The lowest rates are in the Northeast.  New Hampshire had the fewest teen births with 18.7 per 1,000. Vermont, with 20.8 per 1,000, and Massachusetts, with 21.3 per 1,000, were also low.

Hmmm. The states most likely to support abstinence only education have teen pregnancy rates three times higher than use using more comprehensive sex ed programs. And how about this recent study, summarized at USA Today:

Teenagers who pledge virginity until marriage aren’t making good on their promises not to have premarital sex, according to a new study published in the January issue of the journal Pediatrics.

The Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health analysis finds pledgers are just as likely to have sex before marriage as those who didn’t pledge to remain virgins, but the pledgers are much less likely to report using birth control or practicing safe sex when they do.

The report reviewed data from a federal survey of teenagers who said they had never had sex and had not taken a virginity pledge and matched them with peers of similar characteristics who had taken a pledge. Both groups were surveyed in 1995 and again five years later when they reported on their sexual behavior, sexually-transmitted diseases and safe sex practices.

Both those who pledged and those who didn’t pledge did not differ in their sexual practices or the incidence of premarital sex, but pledgers used birth control and condoms less often. Also, 84% of pledgers denied ever making an abstinence pledge.

I’m shocked. SHOCKED! I tell you.

Palin Pregnancy: poster child for “abstinence only”?

For awhile rumors flew that the Palin’s fifth child was actually their 17-year-old daughter Bristol’s. But now we learn that Bristol is five months pregnant herself, which lays the first story to rest, but brings up another:

Abstinence only.

It worked so well for Bristol. So now there will be a shot gun wedding. The family will be lauded for their support of their wayward daughter and for accepting the new challenges “God” has brought into their lives.

Those who like their women pregnant and barefoot will applaud this whole charade. Meanwhile those who believe public policy should give women control over their own bodies just suffered another blow.

Maybe Bristol’s marriage will work out. Occasionally the high school flame is good for life. Mostly not though. And many kids who become pregnant because they were “abstinent” have no family support or understanding.

Here’s another question: do we want a vice-president who’s in the middle of two family dramas – rearing a baby with Down Syndrome, and dealing with a pregnant teen?  Just getting up to speed on foreign policy should be filling Palin’s every waking hour from now till she loses the election.