By LACEE SHEPARD
Capital News Service
LANSING — Teen pregnancies are on the decline in the state except among the youngest girls, a Department of Community Health (DCH) report shows.
The most recent report from 2012 shows that there was a slight increase from 2011 in pregnancies among those 10-14. After decades of steady decreases, the number increased from 94 to 105 reported teen pregnancies.
The reduction of other unintended pregnancies could be a result of the statewide goal to reduce infant mortality, said Angela Minicuci, the information director at DCH.
“It’s something that Gov. Rick Snyder has identified as a priority area for the department,” said Minicuci. “We do have a number of interventions through our teen pregnancy initiative.”
It is hard to look at a small age group and be able to speculate what is causing an increase in pregnancies, she said.
Barb Flis, founder of Parent Action for Healthy Kids in Farmington Hills, runs a program designed to assist parents on how to speak with their children. The program encourages “talk early, talk often” and discusses abstinence.
The program travels statewide, funded through a grant from the DCH. Other programs under the grant operate in high-risk areas, including Detroit, Saginaw and Muskegon.
Lee Warner, associate director for science in the Division of Reproductive Health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, couldn’t explain why the youngest teens birth rates would increase. He referred to an article in the “American Journal of Public Health” saying that about three-quarters of the reduced pregnancies among 15-19 year olds were due to the use of contraceptives and that abstinence accounted for the other quarter.
“But there are clear differences in the sexual and child-bearing behaviors between teens less than 15 and those who were older,” Warner said. “One of the issues for those 14 and younger is there’s an increase in likelihood that the first experience is not voluntary.”
Shanna Cox, a health scientist in the CDC Division of Reproductive Health, said the rise in pregnancies among girls aged 10-14 may not be an indication of a upward trend but simply a one-time event.
“The important thing to remember is that the births between 10 and 14 are very small,” Cox said. “What may appear to be a boom or an uptick is a statistical anomaly, and there’s no change over time.”
The 10-14 year old age group stands alone in its increase. The DCH report shows the numbers of pregnancies among 15-19 year olds have been steadily decreasing since 1990, dropping by 10,000 pregnancies in the 20-year span.
“It’s hard to speculate why one age saw a reduction over another,” Minicuci said. “The more important thing is the fact that we did see a reduction. That’s really positive and certainly a step in the right direction in the health quality and life quality of Michigan infants.”