Reporting on health and quality of life in South LA

South LA clinic sees 'resurgence' in teen births despite drop in Calif., US rate

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For every 1,000 teenage girls in South L.A., there are about 58 teen births.

Compare that to L.A. County's overall rate: 31 teen births per 1,000 teen girls.

new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says the teen birth rate in the U.S. has fallen sharply – by 25 percent – since 2007. That drop was even steeper in California, where it fell by about 28 percent.

But Dr. Tracy Robinson, an OB/GYN and the chief medical officer at T.H.E. Clinic in South L.A., said she's actually "beginning to see a resurgence in teens who are pregnant."

"I'm finding that not a lot of teens are familiar with a reproductive life plan – deciding how many children they want to have, how they want to space the number of those children," Dr. Robinson said.

A lack of health literacy also plays a role, she said, "in regards to teenagers being aware that they can go in for care not only after the problem, but for preventive measures."

"We have to do a better job of educating teens on what's available to them – abstinence being primary, but also using reliable birth control methods," Robinson said. 

The CDC's report noted that declines in the birth rate among Latina teenagers were the largest of any ethnic group, falling by at least 40 percent in 22 states. Overall, Latino, black and white teenagers saw sizable declines in their birth rates: 34 percent, 24 percent and 20 percent, respectively.

Those drops meant that the "long-term difference" between birth rates for black and Latino teens "has essentially disappeared," said the CDC. That is, there's no longer a considerable disparity between the two, although their teen birth rates are much higher than those of white teens.

Only two states – North Dakota and West Virginia – did not see significant changes in their teen birth rate during this time frame.

Arizona and Utah, on the other hand, saw the largest declines: Both saw 35 percent drops.

L.A. County's birth rate of 31 teen births per 1,000 teen girls is a bit higher than the statewide teen birth rate (28) and virtually the same as the nationwide rate.

Declines in State Teen Birth Rates by Race and Hispanic Origin

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