Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

The Difficulties of Teen Pregnancies

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

The Difficulties of Teen Pregnancies

Article excerpt

Byline: Tonyaa Weathersbee

It's a report that warns about death at an early age.

The Northeast Florida Teen Pregnancy Task Force recently released findings that show that in 2010, about one-third of females ages 15 to 19 in our region gave birth.

The rate, 36.5, down from 39.2 in 2009.

Yet, even though slightly fewer teenagers are becoming pregnant, that doesn't blunt the struggles ahead for those who do.

Those struggles begin with the chances that their babies may not survive.

Between 2005 and 2009, for example, the task force found that teenagers accounted for 11.2 percent of all births in Duval County, but 14.1 percent of all infant deaths.

And even for those teenagers whose babies survive, other things are making their life chances grimmer: That other thing being other babies.

SO MANY HURDLES

The task force found that last year more than 17 percent of babies born to teenagers - that's nearly one out of five - were born to girls who were on their second or third pregnancy.

For the mother, that lessens her chances of finishing high school.

It means struggling to get the resources to nurture whatever hope she may have seen in her children.

Instead of feeling validated by motherhood, she soon feels trapped by it.

And it's the children who suffer - especially since, according to the task force, teenagers who have multiple pregnancies tend to get worse, and not better, at seeking prenatal care.

That puts more babies at risk of dying.

But the task force, which is a project of the Northeast Florida Healthy Start Coalition, has a plan to try to change that reality.

It is working on strategies to engage parents through listening tours and teaching them how to talk to their teenagers about sex.

It also plans to do a community-based sex education listening tours and improve access to adolescent health care through efforts such as having a teens-only clinic in each county and a hotline. …

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