Teen pregnancy rates drop nationwide, still high in Arizona

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - There's good news and bad news when it comes to teenage birth rates. The good news is the national teen birth rate is at its lowest in decades. The bad news is Arizona still has some work to do.

Like many teen moms who go through the doors of Teen Outreach Pregnancy Services near Ft. Lowell and Country Club, Kayla Osborn is looking for help. This is a place where she can get diapers and clothes her for newborn. It's a place where she can also take parenting classes so that she can learn to provide for her baby.

“It's definitely life changing, like, I didn't think I was going to be pregnant at this age,” said Osborn.

She has a six week old baby named Imana which means “faith”. Osborn is juggling the life of being a new teenage mom with trying to get her high school diploma. She's sacrificing a lot in the process.

“If someone is not like a teen mom, they have more to do, as a teen mom there's only so much you can do.” Osborn said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, the national teen birth rate for 2013 is 26.6 births for every 1,000. That's down from 1957 when the rate was nearly three and half times that at 96.3 births for every 1,000.

“First of all, it's been proven that recession leads to decrease in pregnancy for older women and younger women. Also, the de-glamorization of teen pregnancy brought on by the popularity of shows such as Teen Mom could be contributing,” said Teen Outreach Pregnancy Services Regional Manager Jackie Pierson.

Pierson says there has also been better access to birth control. But Arizona's numbers are still higher than the national average.

The rate here is 37.4 births for every 1,000. Pierson says rural parts of the state can be one source of that bigger number.

“We have a lot of tribal populations that might be harder to reach; it might be harder for them to access contraception,” Pierson said.

But there have been 1800 fewer teen pregnancies in 2012 than in 2002. According to the Arizona Department of Health Services, that number is down to 2,860 from 4,696. As for Osborn, she knows it'll be tough but she's staying positive.

“It's definitely hard but I see her everyday and just trying to find work and get a place and finish high school.”

Pierson said federal funding is also going toward preventing these types of pregnancies from happening as well.

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