Teenage pregnancy rate down in Nevada, Carson City

Nearly 9 percent of Carson City girls between 15 and 19 became pregnant during 1999, the second-highest rate in the state, reported the Nevada State Health Division's Office of Vital Records.

Statewide, 7.5 percent of girls 15 to 19 became pregnant last year. That's a significant drop, however, from the peak of nearly 11 percent in 1992.

"We have been reducing pregnancy rates in all areas over the last few years," said Wade Greenlee, spokesman for the state health division.

In Carson City, there were 136 pregnancies among girls 15 to 19 last year. Another two pregnancies were reported by girls between the ages of 10 and 14.

The state's highest rate among teenage girls was in Washoe County, where 9.3 percent of girls 15 to 19 were pregnant last year. The figures include fetal deaths, induced abortions and live births.

The health division launched an effort to curb teenage pregnancy in 1995 when the the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report announced that Nevada had the highest teen pregnancy rate in the nation and had maintained that status for three consecutive years.

The program consists of a variety of groups, including about 30 community action teams that target specific areas of the population.

Greenlee said the department's main target group now is Hispanics.

"As the rest of the state's rate is going down, the rate among Hispanics is growing," he said.

The Carson City School District is also looking to reduce teen pregnancy.

Superintendent Jim Parry said the schools have implemented a state-mandated program to teach students about sexual responsibility with an emphasis on abstinence.

The district also has a special school for expectant and new parents.

The New Horizons Program was started about 10 years ago to enable young parents to finish high school.

"I really believe that young parents need to be in school so that progress can be made to them getting viable jobs and making enough money to support a family," Parry said. "It's really an important program for us."

The school usually enrolls between 12 to 18 students per year and provides an onsite day care program and a nurse.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that teenage pregnancy is a health hazard for both the mother and baby.

"Teenage mothers are disadvantaged in several ways that affect their health and the health of their infants," said one report. "Pregnant teenagers are far less likely to receive timely prenatal care in the first trimester of pregnancy and to have a preterm or low birth weight infant."

The center attributed the national decline in teenage pregnancy to decreased sexual activity, increases in condom use, and the adoption of the implant and injectable contraceptives.

County Number of pregnancies in 1999 Percent of 15- 19-year-olds

Carson City 136 8.9

Douglas 46 2.9

Lyon 82 6.3

Storey 3 2.1

Washoe 890 9.3


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