Number Of Pregnancies Among Young Hispanic Women Plays Large Part In Rising Teenage Birth Rates

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Number Of Pregnancies Among Young Hispanic Women

The birth rate among females ages 15 to 19 in Montgomery County, Md.,which has one of the lowest overall birth rates in the nation,increased by 16% between 2002 and 2005, in large part because ofpregnancies among Hispanic teenagers, according to a report presentedat a County Council meeting on Thursday, the Washington Post reports. At the same time, the birth rate for women in the age group dropped nationally and statewide.

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The report, which was presented to the county's Health and Human ServicesCommittee and Education Committee, found that the birth rate amongHispanics ages 18 and 19 increased by more than 30% in the past 10years. Birth rates among black teenagers ages 18 and 19 have declinedover the past decade and are close to that of white women in the sameage group, according to the report.

According to the report, a survey of Hispanic teenagers and adults by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancyfound that most of the Hispanic community does not consider teen birthsto be a problem or believe it interferes with the future of the mother.The campaign's survey showed that Hispanic teenagers are less likely totalk with their parents about sex compared with other teenage girls,and advocates said that increasing communication between parents andtheir children is important. Candace Kattar, executive director ofMaryland-based Hispanic not-for-profit Identity,said, "A lot of the teen [Hispanic] moms are actually quite happy to bepregnant as teenagers." Pilar Torres, executive director of Hispanicnot-for-profit Centro Familia, said the "whole cultural piece is enormous."

GeorgeLeventhal, chair of the County Council's Health and Human ServicesCommittee, called Kattar's comments "striking," adding, "We makeassumptions that these poor, uneducated girls are acting against theirown best interest. [Kattar's] point was that some of them were making adecision in what they think is in their own interest." The councilplans to continue the discussion in coming months, Leventhal said(Minaya, Washington Post, 7/27).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view theentire Kaiser WeeklyHealth Disparities Report,search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Weekly Health Disparities Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, afree service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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