Despite historic declines in the rates of teen pregnancies and births in the United States, and a 63 percent reduction in the teen pregnancy rate in Georgia, the U.S. teen birth rate is still higher than that of many other developed countries. The state of Georgia has the 16th highest teen pregnancy rate in the country. According to the Georgia Department of Public Health, Newton County has had a substantial decrease in teenage pregnancy rates, currently 27.9 births per 1,000 females ages 15 to 19. However, the county’s rate is still higher than many other counties in Georgia.
This month Newton County Health Department joins organizations across the country in observing National Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month to focus attention on all the progress that has been made and spotlight how much work is yet to be done. The Newton Health Center in Covington, Georgia continues to support National Teen Pregnancy Month through the Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP). This program supports teens in academic and social growth. Part of PREP’s mission is to provide teenagers with knowledge to make healthy choices through education and empowerment. Their main goals are to increase abstinence among adolescents and reduce the incidence of first and repeat pregnancies among females.
Additionally, Newton County Health Center offers family planning services to adults and teenagers. The mission of the Newton Health Center’s Family Planning Program is that all individuals will have knowledge of and access to opportunities for optimal health care. This includes women, men, adolescents and the community at large. While May is a critical time to consider teen pregnancy and how it impacts individuals and the community as a whole, it is important to note that this issue is one to focus on year-round.
Veronica Mahathre, MPH, is the Health Communications Coordinator with the Gwinnett, Newton and Rockdale County Health Departments. The Gwinnett, Newton and Rockdale County Health Departments work to protect and improve the health of those who work, live and play in their community by monitoring and preventing disease; promoting health and well-being and preparing for disasters. For more information please visit the Health Department’s website at www.gnrhealth.com or call the Health Communications Office at 678-442-6873.