FULTON, NY â€“ In recognition of May being National Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month, OCO health educator Janelle Hutchinson has teamed with OCOâ€™s Youth and Family Services and Oswego County BOCES Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention & Services to address the issue of teen pregnancy in Oswego County.
â€œWe have seen an increase in teen pregnancy in Oswego County for the first time in several years,â€ said Hutchinson. â€œAccording to the most recent NYS Vital Statistics, Oswego County teen pregnancies increased from 198 in 2006 to 239 in 2007.Â A substantial increase as the number had been below 200 since 2002. Even with this increase Oswego County has a teen pregnancy rate of 37.0 per 1,000 females ages 15-19, which is lower that the state average of 59.2, however, this newsâ€¦ is only part of the picture. Our teen birth rate is 30.1, which is substantially higher than the rest of the state (24.0) and equal to the rates in New York City. These and other statistics can be found on line at www.health.state.ny.us/nysdoh/vitalstatistics/2007.â€
Hutchinson added that there are a number of health consequences involved with having sex as a teen and becoming a teen mom.
“The children of teen mothers are more likely to be born prematurely and at low birth weight compared to children of older mothers, which raises the probability of infant death, blindness, deafness, chronic respiratory problems, mental retardation, mental illness, cerebral palsy, dyslexia and hyperactivity. Babies born to teens face a range of developmental risks as well. For example, these children report poorer physical and mental health compared to children born as the result of an intended pregnancy. And a new analysis from Child Trends indicates that, children 2 years old who were born as the result of an unplanned pregnancy have significantly lower cognitive test scores when compared to children born as the result of an intended pregnancy. In addition there is the issue of sexually transmitted diseases.Â Even though young people aged 15-24 represent 25 percent of the sexually active population, they account for about half of all new cases of STDs,” she said.
Throughout the month of May OCO Health Education and APPS will be coordinating a number of resource fairs at area high schools.
Scheduled during the lunch hours, the resource fairs will offer students the opportunity to receive information on pregnancy prevention services and visit with representatives from OCOâ€™s Health and Nutrition Services and Youth and Family Services divisions, and BOCES APPS program.
â€œIt is a great opportunity for us to deliver our message to the teens and talk to them about the many services that are available to them and the importance of making healthy choices,â€ added Hutchinson.
Information available to teens during the resource fairs will address the following topics and more:
- Relationships / Dating
- Handling Peer Pressure
- Sexual Decision Making
- Sexual Harassment
- Community Resources
â€œWeâ€™ve planned a number of fun activities that will help educate teens about pregnancy prevention with the focus on making healthy choices,â€ Hutchinson said.
Among the planned activities is a Values survey created by Hutchinson.
â€œThe goal is to get a county wide picture of how teens think about relationships. We are looking forward to a very busy May and an effective campaign that will help reduce teen pregnancy in Oswego County in the future,â€ said Hutchinson.
To help achieve that goal Hutchinson, along with the coordinator of BOCESâ€™ APPS program Linda Eagan, APPS staff members, and several Oswego County high school students, shared their plans with the members of the Oswego County Legislature and requested that May be declared Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month in Oswego County.
â€œIt was a very informative meeting as the students shared their thoughts on teen pregnancy in Oswego County and spoke from their perspective of the importance of the pregnancy prevention services currently available in Oswego County,â€ said Hutchinson.
For more information on National Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month or the services offered through OCO and Oswego County BOCES, call Hutchinson at 342-0880 ext 3.
For more information, visit www.oco.org