Teen birth rate declines in Alaska

The number of teenage parents in Alaska is continuing its downward trend.

Nationwide, the birth rate among teenage women 15-19 years old has declined dramatically since 1991, from 61.8 per 1,000 teens to 24.2 out of every 1,000 by 2014, according to a May 3 bulletin issued by the Alaska Section of Epidemiology. In Alaska, the rate is higher than the national average — 27.8 per 1,000 teens age 15–19 years — but it has fallen significantly from 42.6 per 1,000 in 2008, according to the bulletin.

The Gulf Coast region, which includes the Kenai Peninsula, now has the second-lowest rate in the state, with 20.9 out of every 1,000 teens giving birth in 2014. The Northern and Southwest regions led the state, with 63.3 per 1,000 and 53.0 per 1,000 teens giving birth the same year, respectively.

“Consistent with national trends, Alaska has made great progress in reducing the statewide teen birth rate,” the bulletin states.

The numbers are tabulated through data from the Alaska Bureau of Vital Statistics, which only includes live births. The numbers do not reflect miscarriages, stillbirths or abortions, said Katie Reilly, the adolescent health services coordinator for the Division of Public Health’s Section of Women’s, Children’s and Family Services.

The Section of Epidemiology attributes the decrease partially to increased availability in contraceptives. In 2014, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended long-acting reversible contraception as a contraceptive choice for adolescents who choose not to be abstinent. 

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