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Catawba Countyâ€™s teen pregnancy rate dropped to an all-time low in 2010, according to data released recently.
The total number of pregnancies among Catawba County girls ages 15-19 dropped from 297 in 2009 to 245 in 2010, resulting in a 12-percent decline. The decrease is the single largest year-to-year drop in county history.
North Carolinaâ€™s teen pregnancy rates are also at an all-time low. Rates dropped 11 percent statewide from 2009 to 2010, according to new data released last week.
The news comes on the heels of an October report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that shows dramatic increases in contraceptive use among teens. The report, a part of the National Survey for Family Growth, also shows that U.S. teens who have never had sex are now in the majority for the first time in the surveyâ€™s nearly 30-year history.
In 2009, legislators changed the stateâ€™s sexual health education requirements to more closely align with evidence-based practices and parent opinion by passing the Healthy Youth Act.
â€śTeen pregnancy rates have decreased drastically in our county as a result of both the Healthy Youth Act and the Council on Adolescentsâ€™ programs provided to Catawba Countyâ€™s young people,â€ť said Lindsey Smith, executive director of the Council on Adolescents of Catawba County. â€śDuring the time this data was collected, the Council on Adolescents was providing reproductive health and safety education to all three school systems in Catawba County, as well as several private schools. We know our programs make an impact on the students we serve, which is shown through recent state data, as well as from data we have collected that shows a 30-percent average knowledge increase among program participants.â€ť
The 2010 teen pregnancy rate means Catawba County has cut its rate by more than half since it peaked in 1991. Across the state, the reduction has resulted in a savings of more than $7.7 billion to North Carolina taxpayers, according to the data.
â€śThis significant decline in teen pregnancy rates has occurred in North Carolina because counties across the state have begun investing in comprehensive programs,â€ť Smith said. â€śNow weâ€™re seeing the payoff, and itâ€™s great news for not only Catawba County but the entire state of North Carolina.â€ť
For more information on county pregnancy ratings, visit http://appcnc.org/statistics.