|January 13, 2000||Teen Births by Illinois and County, 1997 - 1998|
TEEN BIRTHS DROP FOR FOURTH CONSECUTIVE YEAR
SPRINGFIELD, IL The number of babies born to Illinois teenagers declined for the fourth consecutive year in 1998, reaching the lowest level in more than a decade, the Illinois Department of Public Health today reported.
Of the 182,503 births to Illinois women in 1998, 12.4 percent, or 22,632, were to girls 19 years of age and younger, down from 12.5 percent in 1997 and the lowest since 12.4 percent was recorded in 1987.
"In recent years, there has been a growing mountain of evidence that teenagers are choosing to postpone sexual activity," said Dr. John R. Lumpkin, state public health director. "There are a variety of reasons cited in government studies on the topic, including concerns about AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, the consequences of an unwanted pregnancy and simply deciding that sex can wait. Whatever the reason, we hope more and more teens embrace this growing trend."
As he has noted in the past, Dr. Lumpkin said teenagers must continue to hear about sex from those they trust their family, teachers, friends, doctors and religious advisers to understand that it is okay to choose abstinence.
"Unmarried teenagers are ill-prepared for the emotional, psychological and financial responsibilities and challenges that accompany parenthood," Dr. Lumpkin said. "Too many teenagers faced with an unwanted pregnancy often are unable to finish high school and, as a consequence, face bleak employment opportunities."
In addition to these problems, Dr. Lumpkin said teen moms and their babies face more health risks. He said teenage mothers are less likely to receive timely prenatal care and more likely to have no care at all, are more likely to smoke and are less likely to gain the recommended weight during their pregnancy. As a result, he said, babies born to teenagers are at an elevated risk of low birthweight, of serious and long-term disability and of dying during the first year of life.
For those teens who choose to have sex, studies have found they are more likely to use contraceptives, particularly condoms. It is important for these teenagers to have access to information about contraceptives and to be encouraged to use contraceptives each and every time they have sex, Dr. Lumpkin said.
In 1998 in Illinois, there were 8,748 babies born to girls 17 years of age and younger, representing 39 percent of all teen births. Births to 18- and 19-year-olds totaled 13,884. In 1997, there were 9,104 babies born to teens 17 years of age or younger, and 13,542 to 18- and 19-year-olds.
African-American teenagers -- 98 percent of whom were not married -- accounted for 40 percent of all teen births, or 9,086. White teens -- 79 percent of whom were not married had 7,900 babies or 35 percent of the total. Hispanic or Latino teenagers gave birth to 5,446 babies; 74 percent of these teens were unmarried.
The number of births to teen mothers and the percentage of the state's total births for the past 12 years are 1987, 22,393 (12.4%); 1988, 23,169 (12.5%); 1989, 24,923 (13.1%); 1990, 25,545 (13.1%); 1991, 25,291 (13.0%); 1992, 24,601 (12.9%); 1993, 24,395 (12.8%); 1994, 24,668 (13.0%); 1995, 24,046 (12.9%); 1996, 23,331 (12.7%); 1997, 22,646 (12.5%); and 1998, 22,632 (12.4%).
of Public Health
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Springfield, Illinois 62761
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