N.M. Still Struggles With Teen Pregnancy

Dec 19, 2012

Using Department of Health vital statistics, a map created by the New Mexico Data Collaborative, shows that teen pregnancy in the Albuquerque South Valley is almost three times the national average.

The Albuquerque Journal reports the map was created by the New Mexico Data Collaborative, a project that provides detailed mapping of health and social issues at the neighborhood level. Peter Winograd, director of the Center for Education Policy Research at UNM states is that what the map is showing us is that in some parts of Albuquerque, the teen birth rate is much higher than the national average and much higher than the state average.

Currently in New Mexico public schools, the state Health Education Content Standards requires abstinence education in second through 12th grade. Abstinence education is still the core during comprehensive health education in middle and high school, but other forms of birth control are also discussed.

There has even been an effort to inform teens about early pregnancy: home health parties. The home health parties held by the New Mexico Teen Pregnancy Coalition are part of a program called Hablando Claro, developed by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, to teach parents to talk with their teens about sex.

Although the South Valley did not have the highest teen birth rate in the metro area, babies born there are at the highest risk in the city for late pre-natal care, low birth weight and poverty, based on Department of Health data compiled by Winograd. In 2011, it was served by only one high-quality child care program, one city of Albuquerque pre-school and four Head Start programs.

The highest teen birth rate in the city of Albuquerque is in the southeast neighborhood in the International District. There were an annual average 122 live births for every 1,000 teen women from 2005 to 2009.

That area also has the city's highest poverty rate — about one-third of families live in poverty — and the highest percentage of mothers with no high school diploma, at nearly 50 percent.