Georgia ranks among worst states for repeat birth rates

Rural numbers highest

A new report finds that Georgia ranked among the worst states in the nation for the number of births to teen mothers who already had at least one child.

According to a report released Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Georgia ranked third, behind Texas and Mississippi, for teen repeat birth rates, the term used for a second or subsequent pregnancy resulting in a live birth.

Georgia had a teen repeat birth rate of slightly more than 20 percent, about two percentage points higher than the nation’s rate.

Texas topped the list at 22 percent.

In the 2010 CDC report, 18.3 percent of the more than 365,000 births by teens ages 15-19 were repeat births. Rates in eight states were higher than 20 percent.

Richmond County’s rate was slightly lower than the national rate at 18.2 percent (69 births), but five surrounding rural counties recorded significantly higher numbers.

In Burke County, 16 births by teens age 15-19, or 27.6 percent, were repeats. Jefferson County was nine births, or 28.1 percent; Jenkins, eight, or 40 percent; McDuffie, 10, or 20.4 percent; and Screven County, 10, or 25.6 percent.

Donna Elliston, the project director for the Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Power and Potential, said reducing teen repeat births can be achieved by initiatives targeting teen pregnancy.

“You’re really addressing two issues,” she said.

Since 2010, Richmond County has received a $7.5 million CDC grant to try to lower teen pregnancy and teen births by 10 percent in five years. The grant, administered by the Georgia Campaign, has helped fund two teen health clinics.

Elliston said teens must be connected with health clinics where they can be educated about birth control. Higher teen pregnancy and teen repeat birth rates in rural counties are partially the result of limited access to health care and clinics, she said.

According to the CDC, 82 percent of teen mothers are not using the most effective forms of birth control.

Repeat teen births in the U.S. decreased more than 6 percent between 2007 and 2010, according to the CDC’s National Vital Statistics System.

The CDC warned that repeat births adversely affect teens’ education and job opportunities.

“You’re really thinking about the well-being of the teen mom and baby,” Elliston said. “Repeat births are often born low-weight and prematurely, which often leads to other health problems.”

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