Teenage Birth Rates in Massachusetts Highest Among Hispanics; Legislation Needed To Address the Issue, Experts Say
Births to Hispanic teenagers living in the western part of Massachusetts -- a state with one of the lowest teen pregnancy rates in the nation -- are more prevalent than teen births among other groups and the rate is growing, a health expert said at a conference on Monday, the Springfield Republican reports.
According to Patricia Quinn, executive director of the Massachusetts Alliance on Teen Pregnancy, who spoke at an event sponsored by the Youth Empowerment Adolescent Health Network, 65% of teenage births in Springfield, Mass., were to Hispanics in 2006, up from 48% a decade earlier. Sarah Perez-McAdoo, co-founder of the network and an obstetrician-gynecologist at Baystate Medical Center, said the Hispanic teenage pregnancy rate in Massachusetts is six times higher than that of non-Hispanics.
According to other statistics released at the event, of all births in Springfield among girls ages 15 to 19 in 2006, 64.9% were to Hispanics, up from 48.6% in 1996. Ruthie Flores, senior manager for the Latina Initiative of the National Campaign on Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, said that 51% of Hispanic teenagers have at least one pregnancy before age 20 and that many do not finish high school. Quinn added that one-third of Hispanic youth report never having had a conversation with a parent about sex. She said more community support and improved access to sex education and contraception would help address the high birth rate. Quinn, who is expected to release a report on teen pregnancy in the state next month, said lawmakers need to do more to address the problem (Constantine, Springfield Republican, 4/8).