DECATUR– In 2007 Decatur and Macon County led the state in teen birth rate at 17%; but after 7 years of consolidated efforts by the Macon County Health Department and the Teen Health Coalition, that number has dropped almost 50%.
Numbers released by both groups on Tuesday morning show that Decatur’s teen birth rate had dropped to 7% in 2014.
“This has been a holistic effort by not only us and the coalition, but also the hospitals and the schools,” MCHD Director Brandi Binkley said. “It is our job to not only educate these kids on safe sex practices but also explain to them the harm in having a child so young.”
Binkley said getting the birth rated down for teens will have long term effects for the economy, as well, “We have seen time and time again that when you have a child before you graduate high school or before you graduate college, the chances of you doing either of those things diminishes greatly. When you have young people having babies at a high rate your economy suffers.”
The Teen Health Coalition is made up of members of the Macon County State’s Attorney’s office, DOVE, Baby Talk, Big Brother’s Big Sisters, Boy’s and Girl’s Club, and Heritage Behavioral Health, among others.
In 2007, 240 out of 1416 births in Decatur were to mothers under the age of 19, in 2014, out of 1591 total births, just 142 were to mothers under the age of 19.
“We are very happy with the results, we are happy that we have been able to keep up with the state and national trend of teen pregnancies decreasing over the last few years, but our work is far from done,” Binkley said.