Teen birth rate drops in South Carolina (copy)

The South Carolina Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy said numbers provided by the state health department show the teen birth rate in this state dropped 9 percent between 2015 and 2016.

The teen birth rate in South Carolina continues to decline, new numbers published by the S.C. Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy show. 

Between 2015 and 2016, the teen birth rate in the state dropped by 9 percent. Last year, looking specifically at the 15- to 19-year-old cohort, an average 23.8 of every 1,000 females gave birth.

In real numbers, more than 57,000 women in South Carolina gave birth last year, and about 3,700 of them were teenagers. 

By comparison, more than 9,700 teenagers gave birth in the state in 1990. 

These numbers do not include births to teens and pre-teens younger than 15, although the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control tracks that data and the birth rate among females in this age group has also dramatically dropped since the early 1990s. 

The S.C. Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy said Thursday the biggest strides have been made among black teenagers, ages 15 to 17. The birth rate for this age group has dropped 81 percent since 1991. 

Lower teen birth rates aren't unique to South Carolina. Across the country, teenagers are having fewer babies because they're having sex less frequently, they're using birth control, and they've been given more information about pregnancy prevention, a 2016 Pew Research Center report found. The economic recession in 2008 and 2009 also contributed, the report explained. 

Beth De Santis, CEO of the S.C. Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, said the declining teen birth rate is a "point of pride" for South Carolina. 

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"Our teens are continuing to make healthier decisions about their futures, and we owe this success to the parents and trusted adults in schools, health care centers and youth serving organizations across South Carolina," De Santis said in a statement. "While we are impressed with the declines that have been made, we recognize work must continue by all of us to maintain success."

Meanwhile, the rates of chlamydia and gonorrhea among teenagers in South Carolina is rising. The Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy is encouraging parents to discuss sexual health with children during "Let's Talk Month" in October. 

For more information, go to www.teenpregnancysc.org/lets-talk-month.

Reach Lauren Sausser at 843-937-5598.