As teenage pregnancy rates declined across New Mexico, Eddy County has struggled to address the issue locally, according to Child Welfare reports.
The county has the fifth highest teenage birth rate in the state according to the New Mexico 2020 KIDS COUNT Data Book.
The county with the highest teenage birth rate in 2019 was Luna County (64 per 1,000), followed by Quay (53 per 1,000), Socorro (48 per 1,000) and Curry counties (47.5 per 1,000).
According to a 2021 report24 in 1,000 New Mexico teens aged 15 to 19 gave birth in 2019, higher than the US average of 17 per 1,000. However, the number of teenage pregnancies in New Mexico has decreased from 53 per 1,000 in 2010.
In Eddy County, 46.4 in 1,000 adolescent girls gave birth in 2019. This means that one in 22 girls aged 15 to 19 was pregnant that year.
Lea County had the state’s sixth largest teenage birth rate at 45.4 per 1,000, and Chavez County had the seventh at 36.4 per 1,000.
Otero County has a teenage birth rate of 27.4 per 1,000. Lincoln has one of 20.1 per 1,000 and has the ninth-lowest teenage pregnancy rate in the state .
While most of the state has seen a decline in teenage births in recent years, Eddy County has fallen from 34.3 per 1,000 in 2018 to 46.4 per 1,000 in 2019.
Even though Eddy County’s teenage pregnancy rate has recently increased, the county has still seen a steady decline over the past 10 years.
In 2012, 71.8 per 1,000 adolescent girls between the ages of 15 and 19 had a baby. By 2018, that number had fallen to an all-time low of 34 per 1,000.
Data shows that teenage pregnancy can have long-term consequences that can hurt both mother and child.
Adolescents are at a higher risk of giving birth to low birth weight and premature babies, according to the National Kids Count Data Center.
Teenage mothers are also 50% less likely to graduate from high school by age 22, and their children are more likely to perform worse in school and drop out of high school. according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC said these children are also more likely to have health problems, to be incarcerated at some point during their teenage years, to give birth as a teenager and to face unemployment as a youngster. adult.
Some groups face higher levels of teenage pregnancy than others, according to the CDC.
In 2019, the birth rates of Hispanic teens (25.3 per 1,000) and black teens (25.8 per 1,000) in the United States were more than double those of white teens (11.4 per 1,000). ).
“Social determinants of health, such as low education and low income levels for a teenager’s family, can contribute to high teenage birth rates,” the CDC said on its website . “Adolescent girls in some backgrounds are at a higher risk of teenage pregnancy and childbirth than other groups. For example, young women in foster care are more than twice as likely to become pregnant as young women. young women not placed in foster care. “
What is being done to help?
Public health clinics statewide provide family planning services to people of all ages. According to the Ministry of Health.
New Mexico laws allow teens to go to these clinics without their parents’ permission, the DOH website said.
Eddy County Health Units are located at 1306 West Stevens in Carlsbad and 1001 Memorial Drive in Artesia.
Quality sexual health education aims to equip adolescents with the knowledge necessary to prevent unwanted pregnancies and protect themselves from sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
Students are required to complete a sexual health education course before they can graduate from high school, unless parents choose to opt out.
The course covers topics such as human sexuality, bodily systems and health issues associated with sexually transmitted diseases, among others, according to the Carlsbad High School Curriculum Guide.
Local organizations also provide assistance to teenage mothers in Eddy County.
The New Beginnings Carlsbad Caring Pregnancy Center and the Artesia Pregnancy Support Center are anti-abortion nonprofits that offer free pregnancy tests, information about pregnant women’s options, and parenting classes, according to their websites.
“We offer free pregnancy tests, free ultrasounds when we have a nurse, parenting classes and a free closet, with maternity and baby clothes,” said the general manager of the pregnancy support center. , Amanda Ramsey. “When a teenager comes to our office, he fills out a short quiz … We talk to him about being educated about how his body works.”
Claudia Silva is a reporter for the UNM Local Reporting Fellowship. She can be reached at [email protected], by phone at 575-628-5506 or on Twitter @thewatchpup.