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West Virginia Teen Birthrate Rising

By: Jillian Risberg Email
By: Jillian Risberg Email

One in seven teen girls in West Virginia will have a baby.

The Mountain State ranks 40th in the nation for underage births. That makes it among the 10 worst states.

So while other state's numbers are going down, we're the only one whose teen birthrate is rising.

"It's not quite as bad in Wood County as it in other counties, but I think that's because we have a lot more access to different models of care," says Dana Singer, program developer and research specialist with the Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department. "We have family planning services here at the health department; there's also Planned Parenthood in Vienna and then some of the clinics are also doing family planning services."

The statistics speak volumes. Singer says more than 50 percent of teen moms drop out of high school, live in poverty and have unhealthy babies.

Wood may not be the worst county in West Virginia when it comes to underage girls having babies, but it is still a statewide problem.

Children of teen moms are also affected. Singer says they are more likely to be incarcerated as teens and become teen parents themselves, so it just perpetuates the cycle of poverty.

"Reality shows are really making it socially acceptable for teens to be having kids, but the reality is we're having babies having babies," Singer says.

The problem is these young women see pregnancy being glorified and think it's a decent way to start a family, according to Singer. She says they don't realize that they're setting themselves up for a long- term struggle.


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