Although the teen pregnancy rate in North Carolina dropped to a historic low in 2012, Bladen County numbers showed a 10 percent increase.
According to information supplied by the North Carolina State Center for Health Statistics, the state’s teen pregnancy rate in 2012 was 39.6 per 1,000 among girls between the ages of 15 and 19. In Bladen County, however, the pregnancy rate for the same age group was 47.3 per 1,000 — a 14.3 percent increase from 2011.
In addition, according to the statistics, the number of repeat pregnancies within that age group in Bladen County is 20 percent.
The teen pregnancy numbers rank Bladen County No. 34 among the state’s 100 counties for highest rates.
In nearby counties:
— Robeson County saw a 10.6 percent drop in the teen pregnancy rate in 2012, though its rate for girls between 15 and 19 was 54.7 percent that year. The county is ranked No. 6 in the state.
— Columbus County saw a 15.9 percent increase in 2012. The county’s rate for teen pregnancies was 37.9 percent and ranked it No. 50.
— Sampson County’s teen pregnancy rate was 53.5 percent in 2012, representing a 5.3 percent drop over the previous year. The county is ranked No. 10.
— Cumberland County saw its teen pregnancy rate drop 9.4 percent in 2012 to a rate of 39.9 percent. The county is ranked No. 13.
— Pender County had one of the state’s largest decreases in teen pregnancy rate in 2012, falling 28 percent to 28.3 percent. The county is ranked No. 73 in the state.
Around the state, the reduction in teen pregnancies also resulted in a 9 percent drop in the teen birth rate and a 13 percent drop in the teen abortion rate.
State health officials are attributing the overall teen pregnancy decline to a number of factors, including increased use of birth control and a slight increase in the average age when teens first engage in sexual intercourse.
The statewide statistics released for 2012 show that the teen pregnancy rate in North Carolina is 62 percent lower than the 1990 level when it peaked.
“The best was for us to make additional progress overall is by helping our state’s medical providers connect with young adults with the most effective forms of birth control and by helping our young adults know how and where to access the health care they need,” said Kay Phillips, CEO of the Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Campaign of North Carolina.
According to the statistics released this week, 71 percent of teen pregnancies were to girls 18 and 19 years of age. But Phillips remains optimistic that the trend is heading in the right direction.
“In the past two decades, our teen pregnancy rate has been cut by more than half,” notes Phillips. “We couldn’t have seen that level of success without a combination of things: medical trends, smart public policy, and — without question — really effective, strategic prevention programs.”