Fewer teenagers becoming mothers

By: Amy Lipman Email
By: Amy Lipman Email

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. A lower teen birth rate across the country is the sign of a positive outlook for upcoming generations.

Nationally, birth rates for girls between 15 and 19 years old declined more than 50% in the past 20 years.

Local numbers also mirror that downward trend, but Mesa County's rate of 35 per 1000 girls having babies is still higher than Colorado's rate of 24 per 1000.

"I found out I was pregnant at 15 then I had my baby at 16," said Daniela Mendoza, who is now a senior at R-5 High School. "Finding out is not what I had planned or anything. It was just rough."

Delaying sexual activity and providing access to contraception are the two major factors in the declining birth rate.

Also, the more willing parents are to have conversations with their children about sex and contraception, the more likely they are to influence their children's sexual activity.

"Whenever I'd want to talk about it, know stuff about it, she would say no, that I'm too young and all that," Daniela said. "So I just did it on my own and that's how I got pregnant."

Mesa County Health Department's Family Planning office will give contraception to sexually active teenagers.

"We just know that it's an issue and we want to continue to make sure that teens are aware of the services, make sure that parents are aware of how to have these conversations, so we can get that number down," said Kristy Emerson, of the Mesa County Health Department.

Also, the Young Parents Program at R-5 High School allows District 51 students to finish their education while being a parent.

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