Newly released data from the Ohio Department of Health show that teen pregnancy is on the decline in Ohio, continuing a fifteen-year downward trend in the absolute number and relative prevalence of new mothers under the age of 19.
State health department officials released preliminary teen pregnancy data this week stating that 12,189 Ohio females under the age of 19 gave birth in 2011 – a 43 percent decrease from 2010. In 2010, babies were born to 22,686 females under the age of 19.
Based on data currently available for 2012, pregnancy rates among teen girls are on track to set another record low, as only 7,788 babies have been born to girls 18 or under during the past ten months.
Teenage pregnancy rates in all six of Ohio’s major metropolitan areas – Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Toledo, and Youngstown – have been declining over the past fifteen years. In an October 29 story, the Dayton Daily News quoted U.S. Centers for Disease Control official Bill Albert, who said, “Believe it or not, more teens are delaying sexual activity, they are having fewer partners, and those who are having sex are using contraception better.”
Nationally, the birth rate among females age 15-19 declined by 25 percent from 2007 to 2011, the Dayton Daily News reported. In Ohio, there were 11 percent fewer teen births in 2010 than in 2009, following a 12 percent decline a year earlier.
Comparing the regions of Ohio, the Columbus metro area saw the best year-over-year improvement, as the teen pregnancy rate decreased by 15.4 percent. In 2009, 330 out of every 10,000 Columbus-area female adolescents became mothers; in 2010, that rate slipped to 305 teen girls giving birth out of every 10,000 in the population.
Teen pregnancy rates in the Cleveland metro area remained relatively unchanged, but were lower than every demographic area surveyed by the Ohio Department of Health. Two years ago, 257 out of every 10,000 Cleveland teen girls became underage mothers. Last year the region’s “teen mom rate” decreased to 253 out of every 10,000.
Due mostly to a precipitous 15.5 percent drop between 2001 and 2002, teen pregnancy rates in the Cleveland metro area have decreased by 37 percent over the past 15 years. A Media Trackers analysis of data from Cincinnati, Dayton, Toledo, and Youngstown shows similar sharp decreases in teen pregnancy rates for each region, followed by years where the rates remain practically level.
While the Ohio Department of Health has not calculated released official data for 2011 or 2012, projections can be made using data from the U.S. Census Bureau and state databases. According to the national Census, there were 781,254 females between the ages of 10 and 19 – the age range where the Ohio Department of Health considers individuals teenagers – in Ohio in 2010. Between 2010 and 2011, the Census predicted that Ohio’s overall population would increase by 0.1%, or 11,544 people.
Assuming, for ease of calculation, that that the predicted growth in Ohio’s population was evenly spread across all demographics, Ohio’s population’s growth in 2011 included 781 more teenage girls. Despite the estimated growth in the state’s population, preliminary Ohio Department of Health data released this week indicate last year’s teen pregnancy rate may set a historic low, with births from only 156 in every 10,000 females under the age of 19.
If projections are correct, the prevalence of teenage pregnancy would have decreased by roughly 46 percent in a single year.
Extrapolating the 2010 data and population trends forward another year, it would appear that 2012 may be another historic year for Ohio’s teen pregnancy rate, as data suggest the teen pregnancy rate may decrease by nearly 24 percent this year.