Monday, August 3, 2009

Mayor Dixon Stresses Need for Teen Pregnancy Initiative

Last Monday, Mayor Sheila Dixon met with the Baltimore City Health Department, Healthy Teen Network, and the Johns Hopkins Urban Health Institute to collaborate on a comprehensive plan intended to reduce teen pregnancy in Baltimore. Attendants were encouraged to cite specific resources that could be utilized in such a proposal, and Mayor Dixon described the meeting as a “critical first step toward not only reducing teen pregnancy but also ensuring that Baltimore’s babies lead long, healthy, and productive lives.”

Teenage pregnancy has been a serious problem in Baltimore City. The Baltimore City teen birth rate, two times greater than Maryland’s rate and 1.6 times greater than the national rate in 2006, increased in 2006 for the first time in 7 years. Teen mothers face higher rates of preterm birth, and their infants have higher rates of low birth weight and infant death, not to mention that children of teenage mothers are more likely to drop out of school, be in poor health, and have an unintended pregnancy themselves. STI rates in the city are also staggering – the number of individuals living with HIV or AIDS in Baltimore City has more than doubled since 2007. That same year, syphilis rates incidence rates in Baltimore City were over three times higher than those of Maryland and gonorrhea rates were four times than those of Maryland.

All of these statistics accentuate a pressing need for the city to embrace an inclusive approach towards this issue that incorporates comprehensive sex education, access to affordable birth control, and programs to increase healthy childbearing and delivery. We commend Mayor Dixon in taking initiative to improve the health of young women and babies and hope that this reflects a sustained commitment to reducing teen births in Baltimore City.

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