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DHSS Press Release

Rita Landgraf, Secretary
Carl Kanefsky, Communications Director
(302) 255-9047, Pager

Date: May 4, 2011


Delaware's teen pregnancy and teen birth rates are at an all-time low, according to statistics from Delaware's Division of Public Health (DPH). During 2004-2008, the most recent rate available, Delaware's teen pregnancy rate for girls ages 15-19 was 65.1 per 1,000. The 2004-2008 teen birth rate for girls 15-19 was 43.1 per 1,000. Nationwide, teen pregnancy is at its lowest point in 70 years.

Because teen pregnancy is a measure of the health of a population and community, May 4 is designated National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. Many sectors in Delaware are working to ensure teens know they have tools to succeed and that preventing teen pregnancy will help them become productive adults.

"The decline in teen pregnancy shows that we can make progress on this challenging health issue," said Dr. Karyl Rattay, DPH director. "However, Delaware's teen pregnancy rate is higher than the surrounding states of New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Maryland. And most importantly, disparities persist. Black teen pregnancy rates are nearly twice that of white teens. It is vital to continue work in this area to ensure Delaware's youth have the best chance at a healthy and successful future."

DPH, with guidance from its Teen Pregnancy Prevention Advisory Board, have created the Adolescent Sexual Health State Plan as a requirement of the new federal Personal Responsibility Education Program, funded by a $250,000 grant through federal health reform awarded to DPH in 2010. Additionally, through collaboration with the Delaware Healthy Mother and Infant Consortium, DPH is educating teens on reproductive life planning and healthy choices through the teen plan, My Life, My Plan, released January 2011 through schools and social media venues. This tool targets teens ages 15-18 with messages on setting goals and empowerment to make positive life choices, including preventing pregnancy.

"To make even more impact we must ensure teens across the state have access to reproductive health services in our school-based wellness centers," said Judy Herrman, PhD, chair of DPH's Teen Pregnancy Prevention Advisory Board. "We are fortunate that 80 percent of Delaware's public high schools have a wellness center. This is an important place for teens to receive education on preventing pregnancy."

The state plan and My Life, My Plan is available at the DHMIC website:

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.