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State teen pregnancy rate at record low

North Carolina's teen pregnancy rate fell to a record low last year, figures released Monday show.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina's teen pregnancy rate fell to a record low last year, figures released Monday show.

Fifty-six of every 1,000 teen girls ages 15 to 19 became pregnant in 2009, according to data compiled by the state Department of Health and Human Services. In 2008, 58.6 of every 1,000 girls in North Carolina became pregnant.

Pregnancy rates fell across all age, racial and ethnic categories, as well as in about two-thirds of North Carolina's 100 counties. Abortion rates also decreased in all categories.

Significant disparities still exist between racial and ethnic groups, however. The pregnancy rate among white teens was 45.4 per 1,000 girls, while the corresponding rate for all minority teens was 74.3, including 118.4 for only Hispanic teens.

"We're seeing the payoff from the North Carolina General Assembly's strategic investment in proven programs to help our most needy counties lower their rates," Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Campaign of North Carolina Executive Director Kay Phillips said in a statement.

Phillips cited as an example, the new Healthy Youth Act, which requires schools to provide seventh-, eighth- and ninth-graders with medically accurate information on the prevention of pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases, as well as building healthy relationships.

"The new law will allow us to continue to improve our pregnancy rates and also focus on STD rates, which are an increasing problem among young people," State Health Director Dr. Jeffrey Engel said in a statement.

The state's teen pregnancy rate has steadily dropped since 1991, following a spike in the late 1980s. Yet, the state still has the nation's 14th highest rate.


Matthew Burns, Web Editor

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