Local teen birth rates fell to historic lows in 2016, according to data recently analyzed by the Monroe County Department of Public Health.
The number of babies born to teen mothers in Rochester has declined 61 percent since 2008. There were 259 babies born to adolescent mothers — ages 15-19 — in the city of Rochester in 2016, a rate of about 31 per 1,000 teen girls, or 3 percent. In 2008, 657 babies were born to adolescent mothers in Rochester, a rate of 8 percent.
The teen birth rates dropped in suburban towns as well. In 2016, 91 babies were born to adolescent girls — ages 15-19 — in suburban Monroe County, a rate of .5 percent. In 2008, 208 babies were born to teen mothers in Monroe County suburbs, a rate of 1.1 percent.
Since 2009, the teen birth rate in Rochester has been six or seven times higher than the teen birth rate in suburban towns. The national teen birth rate in 2016 was 2 percent. Teen pregnancy rates are higher in the U.S. than in most other developed countries.
“It is great news for Rochester to see consistent declines in teen birth rates for eight years in a row,” said Bonnie Allen, clinical supervisor of the Teen-Age Parent Support Services, a program of SPCC. “We need to keep doing more of “what works”, so that this positive trend continues. Teen pregnancy can be an enormous stress on both the mother and the father. Starting a family as a teen can lock parents in a cycle of poverty and can put the child at risk for health and behavioral problems and school failure.”
Sheila Driscoll, director of the Metro Council for Teen Potential, said the credit for declining teen birth rates goes to teens and parents, youth-friendly health centers, the city of Rochester, Rochester City School District and many others. The city has taken the lead in directing two teen pregnancy prevention programs that engage 3,000 youth per year in discussions about abstinence, birth control, communication skills and consent. Related efforts in Rochester to reduce teen birth rates have included improving access to reliable contraception, media messages, parent workshops and peer to peer education.
According to the Youth Risk Behavior Survey, administered in Rochester City School District high schools in 2017, 40 percent of teens have had sexual intercourse.
The Metro Council for Teen Potential is a coalition of youth-serving organizations, government, RCSD and health organizations that works to promote youth development and teen pregnancy prevention in Rochester.