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Repeat Births by Teen Girls Still Too High: CDC

TUESDAY, April 2 (HealthDay News) -- Nearly 20 percent of American teens who give birth have already had one or more babies, a federal study released Tuesday says.

In 2010, more than 365,000 teens aged 15 to 19 gave birth and about 67,000 (18.3 percent) of those were repeat births, according to the April Vital Signs report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Repeat births among teens decreased by more than 6 percent between 2007 and 2010, but the number of repeat births remains high, according to the study.

In 2010, repeat teen births were highest among American Indian/Alaska Natives (nearly 22 percent), Hispanics (21 percent) and blacks (about 20 percent). They were lowest among whites (just under 15 percent).

Repeat births ranged from a high of 22 percent in Texas to 10 percent in New Hampshire, according to the report.

Although 91 percent of teen mothers who were sexually active used some form of contraception, only 22 percent used contraceptives considered to be "most effective," meaning that, with those forms of birth control, the risk of pregnancy was less than one pregnancy per 100 users per year.

Teen pregnancies can change the lives and futures of the mother, child and family. Infants born as a result of repeat teen pregnancy are also more likely to be born too soon and too small, the report stated.

"Teen birth rates in the United States have declined to a record low, which is good news," CDC director Dr. Thomas Frieden said in an agency news release. "But rates are still far too high. Repeat births can negatively impact the mother's education and job opportunities as well as the health of the next generation. Teens, parents, health-care providers and others need to do much more to reduce unintended pregnancies."

Parents, health-care providers and other adults need to talk to both male and female teens about avoiding pregnancy by not having sex. With sexually active teens, the discussion can focus on the most effective types of birth control, according to the report.

Dr. Jill Rabin is chief of ambulatory care, obstetrics and gynecology at Long Island Jewish Medical Center, in New Hyde Park, N.Y. She said: "There are several excellent options available not only to continue to ensure that the current rate of teenage pregnancy continues to decline (as it has from 2007), but especially to prevent repeat pregnancies among adolescents.

"These include: linking pregnant and parenting teens to home-based and school-based programs, and support and funding for programs which offer a support net of services for these often socio-economically underserved teens, including clinical, nutritional and psychosocial support. This is truly a unique opportunity to open our national conversation about safer sexual health, birth spacing and birth control, especially the most effective method: long-acting reversible contraception (LARC). Long-acting reversible contraception includes a device inserted into the uterus, or an implant in the arm lasting 3 to 10 years and has been deemed clinically safe for teens. These initiatives, including LARC, are a golden opportunity to enhance the long-term health of our teenagers."

More information

The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy offers parents 10 tips to help their children avoid teen pregnancy.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Jill Rabin, M.D., chief of ambulatory care, obstetrics and gynecology, Long Island Jewish Medical Center, New Hyde Park, N.Y.; U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, news release, April 2, 2013

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