This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2008, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
For the first time in a decade, Utah's teen birth rate is on the rise.
In 2006, the most recent year for which data are available, the birth rate for girls ages 15 to 19 was 31.2 per 1,000 girls. That's up from 28.7 in 2005. All told, 3,519 babies were born to teen mothers. It's the first time the state's teen birth rate has gone up since 1997, but it's still much lower than the national average of 41.9.
"We're not alarmed at this point," said Jennifer Mayfield, adolescent health coordinator for the Utah Department of Health. She noted Utah's birth rate has dropped from nearly 49 per 1,000 teens in 1991.
Still, there are several Utah communities where the teen birth rate is higher than the national average, including Rose Park and Glendale in Salt Lake City, downtown Ogden, South Salt Lake, the east side of West Valley City and Midvale.
Because rates are higher among Latino teens, the Health Department piloted a Spanish-language program that helps parents of 9-to-12-year-olds talk with their kids about sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy prevention.
Mayfield said the Health Department receives $288,000 in federal abstinence-only funds. While other states have recently chosen to reject the federal money after studies found abstinence-only programs don't work, Utah opted to continue taking the money.
"We certainly believe that a comprehensive approach is most beneficial," Mayfield said. "Teens need to be presented with healthy options. Abstinence is one of those healthy options."
The data were highlighted to coincide with the National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, which is today. - Heather May