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Health, Science and Technology

Teen birth rate plummets in Santa Barbara County over past decade


The teen birth rate is dropping nationwid, especially among Hispanic and black girls, and those same statistics are mirrored here on the Central Coast. 

Santa Barbara County Public Health says 2007 saw the highest teen birth rate on record. Roughly four percent of girls between the ages of 15 and 19 gave birth that year, and that number was more than ten percent for Latinas.

By 2014—the most recent statistics available—those numbers had fallen by half or more.

Susan Klein-Rothschild is the Deputy Director of Public Health and told KCBX that it's hard to say exactly why the rate is dropping as quickly as it is.

"One factor may be that teens are having less sex, one factor may be that they're using birth-control methods, another factor may be social factors, that teen pregnancy is no longer seen as positive in certain cultures or certain communities as it has been," said Klein-Rothschild.

Klein-Rothschild said the lower teen birth rates are really good news because planning leads to better-prepared parents and healthier babies.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said factors for the downward trend nationally are likely for many of the same reasons given by County Health.

The organization said high unemployment, low income and low education levels are main factors for higher teen birth rates, regardless of race.