Newspaper article

Minnesota's Teen Birth and Pregnancy Rates Fall to All-Time Lows, but STI Rates Climb

Newspaper article

Minnesota's Teen Birth and Pregnancy Rates Fall to All-Time Lows, but STI Rates Climb

Article excerpt

Minnesota's teen pregnancy and birth rates have reached a historic low, but the rate of sexually transmitted diseases among the state's teens have taken a troubling upward turn, according to a report released Wednesday by University of Minnesota researchers.

The Adolescent Sexual Health Report, which is issued annually by the University of Minnesota Healthy Youth Development - Prevention Research Center (HYD - PRC), found that the pregnancy rate among adolescents aged 15 to 19 decreased by 11.8 percent and the birth rate fell by 11.3 percent in 2015.

Those are all-time lows. Since 1980, Minnesota's teen pregnancy rate has dropped by 69 percent, and its teen birth rate has decreased by 63 percent -- declines that mirror what is happening nationally.

Yet between 2014 and 2015, the rate of gonorrhea among Minnesota's teens jumped 40 percent, and the rate of chlamydia rose 15 percent.

Those rates for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are disproportionately high. Even though teens make up just 7 percent of Minnesota's population, they account for 28 percent of chlamydia cases and 18 percent of gonorrhea cases, the report points out.

"Young people are using really effective birth control methods and doing a good job of being effective birth control users, and that's fabulous," said Jill Farris, director of adolescent sexual health training and education for HYD-PRC, in an interview with MinnPost. "But at the same time, we need to be giving better messaging about continuing to use condoms and barrier methods even when a person is using a long-acting method of birth control, like an IUD or an implant."

Racial/ethnic disparities

The report, which is based on surveys administered to public school students in grades 9 and 11, identifies several racial and geographic disparities in adolescent sexual health. Although Minnesota's adolescents of color have experienced the greatest decline in pregnancy and birth rates in recent years (birth rates fell 20 percent among black youth and 17 percent among for Hispanic/Latina youth in 2015 alone), they still have higher rates than white teens.

One minority group -- American Indians -- saw a slight (less than 1 percent) increase in teen births in 2015. …

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