OKLAHOMA CITY – Teen birth rates in Oklahoma rose again, making the state the 5th highest in the nation for births among girls ages 15 to 19.
According to the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy, the state's birth rate for older teens -- ages 18 to 19 -- jumped in 2007 from 6th highest to 2nd highest in the country, just behind Mississippi. The age group represents two-thirds of all Oklahoma teen births each year.
The rise in the number of births for older teens helped push Oklahoma from 6th to 5th highest teen birth rate overall.
Between 1991 and 2005, Oklahoma's teen birth numbers actually declined. The trend reversed in 2006, with a dramatic 12 percent increase between 2005 and 2007.
"This is disappointing news, but not surprising news," says Sharon Rodine, Director of Youth Initiatives for the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy. "Other states are stepping up their efforts while Oklahoma is doing less."
The OICA says state legislative and agency budget cuts over the past two years have led to the loss of effective pregnancy prevention programs throughout the state.