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Teen birth rate has declined since mid 90s, Health Unit reports

SIMCOE, OCTOBER 21, 2011 – Fewer teenage females in Haldimand and Norfolk counties are becoming mothers, which suggests that local young women are doing increasingly well in controlling and protecting their sexual and reproductive health.

The declining rate of teenage pregnancy in the two counties is one issue outlined in a Maternal and Child Health Report released today by the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit. The report also notes that although teen live birth rates have declined in our area, the local rates remain higher than provincial rates.

The teenage live birth rate is the number of live births per 1000 women aged 15 to 19. Haldimand and Norfolk counties’ rate averaged 17.8/1000 from 1996 to 1999. The average rate declined to 14.9/100 from 2005 to 2008, the most recent years for which information is available.

“The decreased teen live birth rate is encouraging from a public health perspective,” said Melanie Laundry, Program Coordinator for the Family Health Team at the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit. “Statistics show that teen mothers have a greater chance of delivering babies with low birth weights and associated health problems, compared to other age groups. There also tend to be long-term negative effects for the mother’s well-being.”

In 2009, 22%, or 206, of the babies born in Haldimand and Norfolk counties were assessed as ‘high risk’ for poor development.

Other findings highlighted in the report include:

  • Haldimand and Norfolk counties, combined, have lower average rates of live births, pregnancies and therapeutic abortions when compared to the provincial rate.
  • Haldimand and Norfolk counties, combined, have lower average rates for preterm births, low birth weight babies, and multiple births when compared to the provincial rate.
  • The use of drugs and alcohol among pregnant women in Haldimand and Norfolk counties has remained consistent over the past few years (approximately 1.3% of pregnant women).
  • The percentage of families with newborns in Haldimand and Norfolk experiencing financial difficulties has been increasing (5.9% in 2005 to 9.3% in 2009).
  • The percentage of mothers with low educational status with newborns is also increasing (5.2% in 2005 to 8.2% in 2009).

“The increase in families struggling financially, and mothers with low educational status, are cause for concern, as both of these factors can contribute to a newborn being at risk for poor development,” added Laundry. “We will keep the findings of this report in the forefront as we plan future health programs and services for families in Haldimand and Norfolk.”
The full report is available for viewing on the Health Unit’s website, www.hnhu.org.

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Media contact:
Jackie Esbaugh
Program Evaluator and Data Analyst
Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit
Ext. 3305 at either 519-426-6170 or 905-318-6623
[email protected]