Teen pregnancies fall by 10 percent Prevention efforts succeed in state, city

November 27, 1991|By Lynda Robinson

The state's 4-year-old campaign to prevent teen-agers from getting pregnant is beginning to pay off, according to statistics released yesterday by the Governor's Council on Adolescent Pregnancy.

Pregnancy among girls 18 and under has fallen by 10 percent both in Maryland and in Baltimore over the past two years, said Bronwyn Mayden, executive director of the council.

Between 1988 and 1990, she said, births to teen-agers fell from 3,340 to 2,899 statewide and from 1,453 to 1,304 in Baltimore.

Ms. Mayden said the numbers reflect state programs to promote abstinence among young people and encourage sexually active teens to use contraception. "The strategy seems to be working," she said after presenting the new statistics yesterday to Maryland's eighth annual Conference on Teen-age Pregnancy and Parenting in Hunt Valley.

Abortions also appeared to have dropped among Maryland teen-agers between 1988 and 1989, though the figures may not be accurate because clinics and hospitals that perform abortions are not required to report them to the state.

In 1989, abortions were said to have been performed on 2,103 women under 18, compared with 2,522 in 1988. No figures are available for 1990, the council reported.

The council has tried to discourage children from 9 to 14 from becoming sexually active with television and radio ads, videos and other public service announcements. "We think that young people are getting that message," Ms. Mayden said.

In Baltimore, births to girls 15 and under fell from 147 in 1988 to 119 in 1989.

State officials said they believe more of Maryland's sexually active teens are using contraception -- the result of a $2 million program to lengthen the hours of family planning clinics across the state and open three family planning clinics specifically aimed at teens.

The teen clinics have made condoms and other forms of birth control readily available at Mondawmin Mall in Baltimore and the Stanton Health Clinic in Annapolis. A third clinic is in Prince George's County.

The state also distributes $250,000 each year to communities for locally designed teen pregnancy programs. Thus far, the council's programs have not been affected by statewide budget cuts. But Ms. Mayden said she was uncertain whether family planning clinics will have to reduce hours because of future cuts.

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