Statewide teen pregnancy rates released - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Statewide teen pregnancy rates released

Chippewa Valley (WQOW) - More than 60,000 babies have been born to teen mothers in Wisconsin, that's just in the past 10 years.

Here in the Chippewa Valley teen pregnancy rates vary by county, some with the state's lowest numbers and others recording many more births.

Eau Claire County ranks 12th out of Wisconsin's 72 counties, landing among those with the fewest teen pregnancies annually.

"We're encouraged by that that we're going on the downward swing.  Of course less than that would be desirable.  We'll continue to outreach to teens and make sure services are available to them," says Paulette Magur of the Eau Claire City-County Health Department.

To the north, Chippewa County sits lower on the list at 48th; in the past decade more than 550 babies have been born to teen moms.

The numbers go hand in hand with population, in contrast consider Milwaukee County where more than 20,000 teens gave birth in the past ten years.

"It's quite similar to the county health rankings map.  I don't think it's a surprise that many of the communities who rank lower in the county health rankings also have a higher teen birth rate," says Jean Durch, director of the Chippewa County Health Department.

Each county has teen outreach programs to educate and encourage contraceptives.

"We as a health department are exploring and need to get more into is the social media.  Because if we want to reach that crowd that's one thing that we really have to have a greater presence in," says Durch.

"Making sure they have access to care, that they feel like they can come to the clinic and get care and can feel that in a confidential manner.  We're here for them," says Magur.

But health departments also worry teens avoid some clinics because they're afraid people will hear about their visit.

"Some teens don't feel as comfortable with that.  There's also transportation issues, you know, driving from Fairchild or Augusta to Eau Claire is a little bit of a jaunt for people," says Magur.

Each department acknowledges its challenges, but say the slow decline in teen births is a positive sign some of their methods are working.

"If they're going to be sexually active we want them to be able to know that the resources are there and make informed decisions to hopefully not have a child until they're ready later in life," says Magur.

"We've had a trend with less births to teens and there's still work to be done to keep it going that direction," says Durch.

For the past 10 years there has been a two percent drop each year in teen births across the state.

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