State has highest teen pregnancy rate in country
Posted at: 02/26/2013 10:30 PM
By: Gadi Schwartz, KOB Eyewitness News 4
A recent study has New Mexico leading the nation in teenage pregnancy rates.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, about 93 out of 1,000 teenage women from age 15-19 became pregnant in 2008, the last year of available data.
That's not surprising for some mothers who gave birth during their teenage years like 21-year-old Monique Olivas, who had her daughter when she was 17.
"Your life changes in a matter of a moment that you find out you're pregnant," said Olivas, a former honor student who gave up a full scholarship to have her child.
Statistics released by the state show almost 4,000 teenage mothers become pregnant in New Mexico every year.
Teen Pregnancy advocate Jessica Tafoya says there are a lot of factors that contribute to New Mexico's high pregnancy rates.
"Our kids are engaging in risky behavior at a very early age," Tafoya said.
Tafoya said some of the factors that put New Mexico on the top of the list are poverty, cultural and religious influences and a lack of high school sex ed.
State officials say while teen pregnancy rates are still unacceptably high, actual teen births are on the decline.
2011 data compiled by the NM Health Department shows a decrease of nearly 40% in teen birth rates between 1990 and 2011.
According to the Guttmacher Institute study, Mississippi and Texas follow New Mexico in highest teen pregnancy rates.