Minnesota Teen Pregnancy at All Time Low, Alternate Concerns Remain

The 2016 Minnesota Adolescent Sexual Health Report, recently released by the University of Minnesota’s Healthy Youth Development-Prevention Research Center,(HYD-PRC) shows Minnesota teen pregnancy rates have dropped significantly since 2014.

The report highlights current trends in pregnancy and birth rates as well as trends with sexually transmitted infections (STIs). The study also examined how how geographic location, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, and childhood experiences impacted those rates.

According to the report, Minnesota teen pregnancy has declined 8.2 percent in the past two years, and teen birth rates follow a similar pattern, showing a decline of 8.1 percent in the same time period.

Notable findings include:

  • Teen pregnancy and birth rates declined 8 percent in the last two years
  • STIs were more common is teens of color compared to white teens

“It flies in the face of what many people tend to think is going on with teenagers — that things are as bad as ever,” Jill Farris, M.P.H., director of Adolescent Sexual Health Training and Education for HYD-PRC, and lead author of the report, told the Star Tribune. “This is a testament to the wise and healthy decisions young people are making about their sexual health.”

Additionally, researchers found the highest teen birth rates are all found in greater Minnesota counties. In these areas, adolescent sexual health care is geared mostly toward females, and further improvements will require a heightened focus on informing young men statewide of sexual health precautions.

Though teen births have dropped, rates of STIs have not.

  • Gonorrhea is 33 times higher for Black youth and 11 times higher for American Indian youth, when compared to white youth
  • Adolescents, which account for 7 percent of the Minnesotan population, accounted for 24 percent of chlamydia cases and 16 percent of gonorrhea cases
  • Minnesota youth have seen a 51 percent increase in chlamydia cases in the last decade

Researchers of the report have linked “dangerous levels of stress” arising from adverse childhood experiences such as abuse, neglect, witnessing crime, and parental substance abuse to an increase in likelihood of teen sex and pregnancy.

“We are definitely seeing an improvement, but pregnancy, birth, and STI’s are still negatively impacting far too many young people.” Farris continues, “We should be congratulating young people for making good choices and good decisions … but we still have a lot of work to do and must continue our efforts to improve sexual health of Minnesota youth.”

More on this story:

Check out our Storify to see media coverage of the report.

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