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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update
OHIO: Ohio Teen Birth Rate Hits 21-Year Low; Fear of STDs, Increased Awareness Among Reasons Cited for Drop
Cornelius Frolik
December 19, 2011
Dayton Daily News (12.01.11) - Monday, December 19, 2011

Preliminary data show a decline in Ohio's teen birth rate for the third straight year, and health experts say the drop indicates teenagers are having safer and less sex.

In 2010, the state Department of Health recorded 34 births per 1,000 teens ages 15-19. That compares to 38.8 births in 2009 and 41 births in 2008. Nationally, the teen birth rate in 2010 was 34.3 per 1,000 girls under age 20, according to CDC.

"I think we are staring square in the face of one of the nation's real great success stories of the past few decades," said Bill Albert of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. "A combination of less sex and more contraception is driving the teen birth rate down." Albert said fear of contracting STDs is a major reason for teens practicing safer sex or delaying sex. In addition, social media and reality TV shows are exposing teens to the harsh challenges of parenting when money is tight and jobs are scarce.

Making the choice to use contraceptives or delay having sex is rooted in education, said Sarah Highstein, pediatric psychologist with Children's Medical Center of Dayton. While these can be awkward topics for parents to broach with their children, using "conversation triggers" such as TV shows, movies, commercials or current events can help, she said.

"Studies consistently show that when parents talk early and often to their kids about sex, the kids are more likely to delay having sex and are more likely to use protection when they become sexually active," said Highstein.