NEW ORLEANS - The Teen Pregnancy Coalition said Louisiana has gone from the 19th to the 6th highest in the nation when it comes to teens having babies.
On Thursday, they outlined areas that need specific focus.
They represented many different groups working to prevent teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. Doctors and researchers, women's groups and government agencies each had a message during this teen pregnancy prevention month.
"We know that a teen mother is more likely to have an offspring that is more likely to be a teen mother. We know that they are less likely to finish high school. These mothers are more likely to be poor, live below the poverty line and live on public assistance at some time in their future," said Dr. Amy Young, Chair of the LSU Health Sciences Center Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
Because a fifth of teen mothers will have another teen pregnancy within two years, doctors said there needs to be an awareness of long term contraception even though use of short term contraception, mainly condoms, has gone up.
"IUDs and implants have been found to be extremely effective and very safe," said Young, who explained the value of inserting them after delivery.
Another group called for more education of the community and lawmakers.
"I've been involved in trying to pass comprehensive sex education in the state of Louisiana for 25 years, 25 years, 25 years," repeated Dr. Melissa Flournoy, the Louisiana State Director of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast. "The challenge, I think for us, is to face reality. We have young people in our communities, not just in New Orleans, but across the state, who are becoming sexually active at younger and younger ages. I wish this weren't so."
Some on the front lines focus on specific populations.
"In 2011, over 70 percent of teen births occurred to 18 to 19 year olds, with the birth rate among African-American women being over double that of their white counterparts," explained Jakevia Green, of the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine.
"In Louisiana, based on the latest available data, we've had a 150 percent increase in our Hispanic teen pregnancies. It's a particular area of concern and an area of focus," said Young, who also explained those data in Spanish.
Current statistics show that 42 percent of teens 15 to 19 years old are sexually active.
Programs represented at the press conference:
- 4-REAL Health-Orleans Teen Pregnancy Prevention Project
- BUtiful at Tulane
- Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP)
- Believe in Youth!-NOLA, Institute of Women and Ethnic Studies
- WYMAN Teen Outreach Program