Colorado teen birth rate drops thanks to family planning initiative

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MESA COUNTY, Colo. Colorado's experiment to lower booming birth rates is proving to be successful. An anonymous donor funded Colorado's Family Planning Initiative with $23 million to help provide 30,000 intrauterine devices and implants to 68 clinics across the state.

This method of birth control comes at little to no cost for Mesa County teens at the Health Department, which makes a big difference because without this initiative these devices are more expensive than the traditional birth control pill.

"This funding really allowed us to eliminate that barrier of cost to provide it to folks who may not be able to use it otherwise," Kristy Emerson, Mesa County Health Department.

A major benefit of systems like the Nexplanon implant or Mirena is once they're in your body they can last for years leaving the patient with no responsibility to maintain it. Unlike pills which have room for errors like missing a day and not using a backup birth control method.

Colorado's birth rate for teens 15 to 19 has dropped 40% between 2009 and 2013 and officials say this initiative is to thank. While Mesa County has a higher rate at 34.5 per 1,000 teens as oppose to 24 per one-thousand across the state in 2012 it's still an accomplishment.

"It is something that we're still keeping an eye on something that we're aware of but we are very excited to see we are decreasing as well," Emerson.

Seven out of 10 teen pregnancies in Colorado are unplanned and there are many consequences for both mother and child including low birth weight, obesity, mental health issues and learning disabilities for babies and lower education, relationship instability and domestic violence for moms according to the Health Department, which is all the more reason to educate teens on all the options they have available.

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