SC teen birth rate drops more than 50% since 1990`s

Published: Oct. 7, 2014 at 11:41 AM EDT|Updated: Oct. 11, 2014 at 10:55 AM EDT
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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - South Carolina's teen birth rate has declined more than 50% since the early 1990's.

According to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, the state's teen birth rate has fallen 54% from 1992-2013. This includes a substantial decrease between 2012 and 2013 when the teen birth rate declined by 13%.

Declines over the last two decades have been most substantial among school-aged kids ages 15-17 whose teen birth rate has decreased by 68% since 1992. But South Carolina has the 12th highest teen birth rate in the nation.

"What has happened here in South Carolina over the last twenty-plus years is beyond extraordinary," said Forrest Alton, South Carolina Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy CEO. "A decrease of this magnitude in the state's teen birth rate in just one generation's time truly ranks as one of our state's greatest, yet untold, success stories. What's happened among youth 15-17 is particularly amazing."

While it is difficult to pinpoint a single reason for the decline, Alton and others at the SC Campaign are confident that statewide efforts to implement research-proven approaches, policy decisions that benefit young people, and the presence of a leadership organization like the SC Campaign are all having an impact.

Specifically, two main reasons seem to emerge as most likely. Among them, it' is possible that the national average has reached its maximum. Young people are making better decisions and using birth control more consistently. And the efforts of programs to discourage teen pregnancy are working.

"There are economic price tags. There are societal prices tags. There are impacts on graduation rates and future work forced preparedness," Alton said. "Impacts on poverty family stability we know, especially those people who have children need to step up to the plate and be having conversations with their child. And for those of us who don't have children also have a stake in the game here and need to make sure that we are all doing what we can to invest in young people and help them make better decisions. "

The top three Counties in the Midlands  that rank highest for teen birth rates are Fairfield, Clarendon, and Lee Counties. The Midlands Counties that rank the lowest for number of teen births are Richland, Calhoun, and Lexington.

SC campaign officials say that although a county may be ranked higher than others, there are still areas of the county that need more help.

Nearly 48,000 teens under the age of 20 became mothers in 2013.

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To see a breakdown by county, click here.