Study shows drop in state's teen birthrate

January 21, 1999|By Jennifer Sullivan | Jennifer Sullivan,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Fewer American teens are having babies, and Maryland is helping lead the decline.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation, a nonprofit organization that focuses on children's issues, announced yesterday that the teen birthrate has dropped by 12 percent nationally and by 15 percent in Maryland since 1991.

A spokeswoman for the state Department of Health and Hygiene said she had not yet seen the report and could not comment.

William O'Hare, who compiled the birth statistics along with his assistant, Amy Ritualo, said the decrease in birthrates is a "welcome sign."

Diane Camper, spokeswoman for the Baltimore-based foundation, said the six-month study of teen pregnancy and birthrates culminated in the foundation's first report on a singular topic.

Until now, the group has released an annual "Kids Count" data book reporting on a variety of issues facing children in the United States.

Such topics as juvenile detention, community rebuilding, child welfare and teen pregnancy have been studied in the past. But the foundation wanted to offer a comprehensive report on teen sexuality issues, Camper said.

Details of the teen birth report have been sent to Planned Parenthood and the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, among other groups.

O'Hare, the coordinator for Kids Count, collected his information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Census Bureau, the Population Reference Bureau and other sources.

Maryland is ranked 20th in the United States for teen birthrates, O'Hare said. It is tied with Virginia and Alaska.

O'Hare attributed the drop to increased abstinence and use of contraceptives among teens.

Pub Date: 1/21/99

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