Report ranks OKC, Tulsa in top 20 for teen-age mothers

Thursday, December 16th 1999, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Oklahoma's two largest cities were ranked in the top 20 of a national report on the conditions of babies born in the nation's 50 largest cities. The rankings were part of a report from the nonprofit Annie E.Casey Foundation, which sponsors the Kids Count book of statistics on infants and children.

According to the study, Oklahoma City and Tulsa infants are at greater risk of being born to teen-age mothers, to smokers and to poor women. The two Oklahoma cities were in the bottom half of most of the eight factors considered in the rankings. Anne Roberts, executive director of the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy, said the percentage of babies born to teen-age moms without health insurance is a major factor in the low rankings of both cities. "Babies born to teen moms are at greater risk of living in poverty, being abused, dropping out of school, and face a greater likelihood of a lifetime of health problems," Ms. Roberts said.

The 1999 Kids Count Data Book showed the number of pregnancies for Oklahoma girls ages 15 to 17 decreased 12 percent between 1985 and 1996, but the state still ranks 13th nationally in births to teen mothers. Of the 50 cities selected, Tulsa and Washington D.C. were ranked 50th in 1997 for the percentage of babies born to girls who already were teen mothers. Oklahoma City was ranked 26th among the 50 cities. In Wednesday's comparison, Oklahoma City ranked 13th and Tulsa ranked 14th in the rate of teen pregnancies. Other statistics found:

 Oklahoma City scored above average in the number of mothers who smoke during pregnancy.
 -- Tulsa ranked 37th in the percentage of total births to women receiving late or no prenatal care.
 -- Tulsa ranked 18th in the percentage of total births to mothers with less than 12 years of education, while Oklahoma City came in 28th.
 -- Tulsa ranked 33rd in the percentage of total births to women under age 20. Oklahoma City ranked 34th.
 -- 57.5 percent of babies born in Tulsa and 61 percent born in Oklahoma City were classified as healthy.

"We're one of the poorest states in the United States, and there is a direct correlation between poverty and poor health," said Gary Cox, executive director of the Tulsa City-County Health Department. Cox said there are programs in effect to address some of the problems outlined in the report.