Oklahoma 's adolescent birth rate still higher than national rate, adolescents, state's economy affected
Oklahoma City- Despite a steady decline in recent years, Oklahoma 's adolescent birth rate still remains higher than the national rate for females aged 15 to 19. Oklahoma averages one birth every 75 minutes to an adolescent female, or about 7,068 births to adolescent mothers per year.
The Oklahoma State Department of Health is concerned that in addition to the individual emotional and financial costs of adolescent childbearing, this problem also places a burden on Oklahoma 's economic, educational, health care and public assistance systems.
Oklahoma vital statistics data indicate that Oklahoma's adolescent birth rate was 56 births per 1,000 females aged 15 to 19 in 2003, or 33.3 percent higher than the national rate of 42 births per 1,000 females in the same age group.
The estimated cost of adolescent births to the Oklahoma healthcare system is about $24.4 million, thus every adolescent pregnancy prevented could produce a potential savings of approximately $3,300. The national cost of adolescent pregnancy is estimated at $7 billion annually.
Adolescent mothers often experience school interruption, persistent poverty, limited vocational opportunities, separation from the child's father, divorce, and repeat pregnancy. These factors cause the adolescent mother to rely more on public assistance and become less likely to have a higher paying job that would contribute to the state and local economy.
In a study using 2000-2003 data from the state health department's Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System, or PRAMS, health officials found that adolescent mothers are 1.8 times more likely than adult mothers to be on WIC, the special supplemental nutrition program for women, infants, and children, during their pregnancy, and they were 1.7 times more likely to have their prenatal care covered by Medicaid. Nearly 80 percent of unmarried adolescent mothers end up in poverty.
Boise City News