This column appears in the Nevada Appeal Wednesday health pages. It addresses topics related to the health of our community.
Teen birth rates in the United States have declined to the lowest levels since the 1940s, but they are still nine times higher than in most other developed countries. Nevada has one of the highest rates of teen pregnancy in the nation, and in Nevada, Carson City has the highest rate of all, according to county health rankings released last year by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The state capital has a rate of 60 births per 1,000 girls ages 15-19, well above the national average rate of 22.
Teen pregnancy brings substantial social and economic costs through immediate and long-term impacts. Having a child during the teen years carries high costs — health, economic and social — to the mother, father, child and community. Teen parents are less likely to finish school and have less earning potential. The children of teenage mothers are also more likely to have health problems, give birth as a teenager themselves, and face unemployment as a young adult.
Carson City Health and Human Services recognizes the challenges facing our community with regard to teen pregnancy. That’s why the Health Department is excited to offer the Promoting Health Among Teens (PHAT) Program to help kids make healthy decisions for their futures. The PHAT Program is an abstinence-based teen-pregnancy-prevention program open to 9- 12-year-olds. Students in the program will learn facts about STDs, HIV and pregnancy, strategies for handling peer pressure, and more. For more information or to sign up, call Vicky Chandler at 775-283-7529.
Parents, educators, public health and medical professionals, and community organizations all have a role to play in reducing teen pregnancy. Together, we can help our teens make healthy choices and be their best.