Preventing teen pregnancies could save Arizona more than $180M/year.  Teen mothers face higher rates of preterm birth, and their kids have higher rates of low birth weight and infant death.  Compared to women who delay childbearing until the age of 20 to 21 years, teenage moms are more likely to drop out of high school and to be and remain single parents.

The kids of teenage mothers are more likely to:

  • have lower grades and proficiency scores at kindergarten entry
  • have behavior problems and chronic medical conditions
  • rely more heavily on publicly-provided health care (AHCCCS)
  • be jailed at some time during adolescence until their early 30s
  • drop out of high school
  • give birth as a teenager
  • be unemployed or underemployed as a young adult.

That’s why CDC picked this as a Winnable Battle.

Our Women’s and Children’s Health shop got a grant this fall that will help.  We’ll be getting about $1M per year to address teen pregnancy through the new federal Personal Responsibility Education Program. This program will educate adolescents on both abstinence and contraception to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, using evidence based programs or elements of effective programs.

In addition, we’ll get $1M/year in federal Abstinence Education funds for programs that support young people in delaying initiation of sexual activity and promote abstinence from sexual activity.   The award of both of these grants will enable Arizona to use multiple approaches that best fit with the needs of targeted high-risk communities.  The additional good news for Arizona is that four community organizations also received federal funding in the fight to prevent teen pregnancy, and we use $3M in lottery funds for the cause- which is a total of $8M to prevent teen pregnancy.