Annual Teen Births in Cincinnati Remain Low, According to Annual Survey

National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy is May 3

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

CINCINNATI – Births to young teenage girls in Cincinnati totaled 193 in 2005, the second lowest annual number of teen births recorded since 1988, according to the annual survey of the Postponing Sexual Involvement (PSI) program. There were 191 births to young teenage girls in Cincinnati in 2004 and 228 in 2003.

PSI, a United Way agency, is a peer education program of Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center aimed at reducing teen parenthood and the spread of sexually transmitted infections. PSI has been tabulating teen birth data since 1988.

The results of the annual PSI survey are being announced in conjunction with National Teen Pregnancy Prevention Day, May 3. Teens are encouraged to visit http://www.teenpregnancy.org/ on this day to take a "quiz" that asks young people what they would do in a number of sexual situations. The message of Teen Pregnancy Prevention Day this year is "sex has consequences." Adults are encouraged to consult the national campaign's 10 tips for helping children avoid teen pregnancy.

The PSI evaluation looks at births in seven hospitals in 2005 to girls 12 to 16 years old living within Cincinnati Public School district zip codes. The hospitals are University, Good Samaritan, Bethesda North, Christ and Mercy Franciscan Hospital at Mt. Airy, Fairfield and Anderson. The evaluation included Bethesda Oak before it closed in 2000.

Births to young teens declined 51 percent between 1993 and 2005, from 391 to 193. Nationally, the birth rate for teens between the ages of 15 and 19 fell 33 percent between 1991 and 2004. A direct comparison between local and national births is not available, in part because national statistics look at birth rates while PSI looks at numbers of births.

"Young teen births remained down in the Cincinnati area," says Christopher Kraus, JD, PSI coordinator. "While the PSI program cannot claim credit for this dramatic and sustained trend, it would be reasonable to infer that PSI is among the many factors responsible for the decline in births to young teens in our community."

Fewer than half of all teens in the United States have had sex, according to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. But despite declines in teen births, the United States still has the highest rate of teen births among comparable countries. Despite less reported sexual activity among teens, 34 percent of girls in the United States become pregnant by the age of 20, according to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy.

Two physicians at Cincinnati Children's brought PSI to Cincinnati, and the program began in the Cincinnati Public Schools in September of 1990, with full implementation for all Cincinnati Public School seventh graders in 1992. Today, 30 of 56 Cincinnati Public Schools with 12- to 14-year-olds host the PSI program. Cincinnati Children's also assists PSI school-based programs in Milford and with Catholic Social Services of Southwest Ohio.

PSI involves role-playing, in which older teens, known as "teen leaders," provide the instruction. These teen leaders send the message that teens can postpone sex and still be normal teens. In the classroom, middle school age students play out classic situations for boys and girls dealing with peer pressure and media pressure.

Eighty-five teen leaders directed instruction this year to more than 2,500 students. More than 1,000 teen leaders have instructed 50,000 young teens in Cincinnati since 1990. "The teen leaders are the single most influential factor in this program's success," says Kraus. "They inspire their peers to postpone sexual activity."

Cincinnati teen leader Britney Thomas, a junior at Dater High School, serves on the national teen advisory board of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, one of the founding partners of the National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy.

Four-year PSI teen leaders, Jennifer Hagood and Darrell Kindell, seniors at The Hughes Center, will train North Dakota PSI teen leaders from May 4 to 7 in support of a PSI program for Native Americans and other residents of Williston, ND. PSI will celebrate the year of teen leader accomplishments at the 16th annual teen leader banquet, May 11, at Cincinnati Children's.

For more information about PSI, go to www.cincinnatichildrens.org/psi, or call 513-363-7795.

Cincinnati Children's is a 475-bed institution devoted to bringing the world the joy of healthier kids. Cincinnati Children's is dedicated to transforming the way health care is delivered by providing care that is timely, efficient, effective, family-centered, equitable and safe. It ranks third nationally among all pediatric centers in research grants from the National Institutes of Health. The Cincinnati Children's vision is to be the leader in improving child health.

Contact Information

Jim Feuer, 513-636-4656, jim.feuer@cchmc.org