Number of teen girls giving birth down - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Number of teen girls giving birth down

CAPE GIRARDEAU COUNTY, MO (KFVS) -

A Center for Disease Control and Prevention study said the teen birth rate dropped about 50 percent in the past 20 years.

The Heartland isn't seeing that big of a drop, but Missouri counties are on a decline.

"We have seen a decrease generally every year since 2009," said Christina Limbach, Cape Girardeau County Central High School Nurse.

"We've been very, very pleased, that for several years now that we have seen a decline in the number of pregnancies here at Cape Central High School," said Cape Central Principal Dr. Mike Cowan.

Cowan said they're not quite sure what's caused the drop, but would love to know the answer.

"If we had an exact answer as to why, certainly we would do everything we could to reinforce that, but there's no doubt about the fact that we take a very assertive approach, in our health education classes," said Cowan.

"We hope that what we're teaching them is helping, but we don't know for sure if that's the cause, or if there's something different," said Limbach.

So what exactly are they teaching the students?

"We certainly recommend, and promote abstinence, but we understand that teenagers are teenagers, and they are going to make choices that sometimes we don't want them to make, and so consequently there is a responsibility we have I think to encourage them to make safe choices," said Cowan.

"Abstinence is the best policy, just finish school first, get out there, figure out what you want to be," said Limbach. "I believe it's abstinence is what as a school district we're teaching, that's what we're hoping that they're listening to, realizing it's better to just wait."

"We think that's an important part of our responsibility as public school educators, to have those frank conversations, because we really are preparing them for the next stage of life, and that next stage of life really doesn't need to be shaped by responsibilities we really don't think they are ready to fully embrace," said Cowan.

"We just try and give them the perspective of what their life could be, and how they can handle it," said Limbach.

Cowan said in one lesson students take home a real life simulated baby doll.

"They come back in the morning after they can't wait to give that baby back to Ms. Johnson and of course we don't let them turn them in until the bell and I say oh no no no, you've got 15 more minutes of parenthood, and they say I'm ready to give this thing up, and I say that my friend is the point of the exercise," said Cowan.

An exercise that is becoming less of real life for more students.

The CDC report also showed a drop in pre term births and low-birth-weight infants.

According to the Missouri Kids Count data, the rate of teen girls giving birth in Cape Girardeau County dropped from 2006 to 2010. In 2006 it was 33.3 per 1,000 girls between the ages of 15 and 19. By 2010, it dropped to 28.4.

For the state of Missouri as a whole, the rate also dropped. In 2006 it was 44.8 per 1,000 girls between the ages of 15 and 19. By 2010, it dropped to 36.9.

You can find a breakdown of the rate by county in Missouri at the Kids Count website here.

You can find other states here.

Cape Girardeau County in 2011 here.

Copyright 2013 KFVS. All rights reserved.

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