The teen pregnancy rate in Sampson County fell last year which is good news to Sampson County Health Department director Wanda Robinson.
Sampson’s rate mirrored the state’s, which also fell 12 percent last year, according to new data released by the North Carolina State Center for Health Statistics. The change represents the single biggest year-to-year drop ever and reduces teen pregnancy to the lowest levels in the state’s history.
“There are a number of programs offered free by the Health Department, the schools and the Partnership for Children to assist teens in pregnancy prevention and also to assist those teens who do find themselves pregnant,” explained Robinson. “We are really pleased that the numbers indicate that these programs appear to be working in lowering our rate and the rate across the state,” added the director.
For the public schools, a modification of the state’s sex-education curriculum that went into effect during the 2010-11 school year can be credited with the decline of pregnancy rates. The curriculum, which is part of the Healthy Youth Act, requires that schools include information about STD rates and contraception.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the 329,797 births to teen parents in 2008 in the United States cost an estimated $11 billion, including health care, lost tax revenue, foster care, public assistance and the higher likelihood of incarceration associated with teen pregnancy.
In 2011 the number of pregnancies among 15-19 year old girls in Sampson County was 13.909. That is a teen pregnancy rate per 1,000 15-19 year old girls to 43.8 percent. Breaking that down by race/ethnicity, for African American teens, the rate is 61.6; Hispanic, 71.1 and white, 30.8.
The information from the North Carolina State Center for Health Statistics also stated that the percent of repeat pregnancies for Sampson is 26 percent.The number of pregnancies for Sampson was 129 total.
Robinson noted that her department had a variety of programs under the umbrella of Health Education that assisted in the prevention of teens getting pregnant. Those programs include the Sexually Transmitted Diseases Clinic, Maternity Clinic, Women’s Preventative Medical Clinic, WIC Program, and the Breast and Cervical Cancer Control Program.
“These programs all assist teens with information and educational opportunities to prevent pregnancy, and, if they happen to become pregnant, where to turn for help for those getting in that situation,” asserted Robinson.
The Health Department also utilizes Adolescence Pregnancy Prevention Campaign of N.C. in many of its projects. According to Robinson, the website for the ADPPC has helpful information for parents and teens all focused on the prevention of pregnancy.
Natashia Faircloth with The Partnership for Children of Sampson County is currently working with five teens who have given birth or shortly will give birth. She shared that it is her responsibility to work with these teenage girls to ensure they have healthy children and that they have the needed information to raise their children.
“Some of these teen mothers are really uncomfortable, especially the one that is about due. I try to provide them support and help them learn how to be good moms. We also try to help them to understand they need to be responsible for the sexual activity and prevent future pregnancies through our program also,” explained Faircloth. “Being a teen mom is not an easy thing for any of these young ladies. For them they have given up part of their childhood to become adults and have to face the responsibilities that come with having a child.”
Robinson is hopeful that with increased awareness and additional information and education for teens and teen parents, the county will continue to see the teen pregnancy rates decrease in the future.