LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) – Louisiana is the 7th state in the U.S. with the most teenage pregnancies, according to the CDC’s latest report.
Health experts in Acadiana are warning not only about the long term impacts on teenage pregnancy, but the health risks as well.
The teen pregnancy rate is dropping nationwide and in Louisiana, but the state is still has one of the highest teenage pregnancy rates in the country.
“Oh it’s bad in Louisiana. not only is teen pregnancy bad, but there are also a lot of sexually transmitted diseases which is another consequence of sex,” pediatrician Dr. Scott Hamilton said.
Dr. Hamilton says teenagers often have higher health risks.
“They are more likely to die of pregnancy related complications and they have this baby to raise who is more likely to be premature and more likely to be sicker,” Dr. Hamilton said.
“We find not enough teenagers are accessing prenatal care early enough. They’re waiting later in the pregnancy us to access prenatal care,” Patrice Lewis said, executive director of A Pregnancy Center and Clinic.
According to the latest report by the CDC, Louisiana has the 7th highest rate of teen pregnancies in the US with a birth rate of 37.5 per 1000 teens aged 15 to 19.
The rate has gone down since 2014 where Louisiana was the 5th highest state with the most teenage pregnancies.
“Part of the problem with Louisiana is sex education isn’t big part of the schools and culturally it’s not a big part where parents talk about this kind of thing with their pre-teens,” Dr. Hamilton said.
There are places like A Pregnancy Center and Clinic for pregnant teenagers to go for some extra help during their pregnancy. According to Lewis, about 4 percent of their patients are teens and they’re ready for new moms, with diapers, all free and donated by the community.
Lewis said the clinic offers most services from ultrasounds to counseling.
“We take a little time with teenager because you realize this is a shock for them,” Lewis said.
Nurse Manager Darlene Hargatt said the clinic also educates the public.
“It’s okay to say no. It’s okay to not have sex before you’re married. [We’re] just encouraging those girls to do well in school and to get involved with extracurricular activities,” Hargatt said.
Dr. Hamilton recommends parents talk to their kids about sex when they’re in 6th or 7th grade. He also said parents should talk to their teen’s doctor about any concerns, options and birth control methods to keep their teen’s safe.