A new federal study says Idaho’s rate of teens having babies has fallen to record lows along with most states. But Idaho is only average.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the teen birth rate in the United States has been dropping steadily for several years and now it’s down to the lowest point since it started keeping track in the 1940s. The authors of the study largely credit sex education initiatives. Sex ed can be a sensitive subject in a socially conservative state like Idaho and programs vary widely from place to place.
In the CDC report Idaho saw 33 births for every thousand girls between ages 15 and 19 in 2010. That was right in the middle of the fifty states. Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest conducts sex education programs in some Idaho schools. Spokesperson Kristen Glundberg-Prossor says they’d like to do more.
“When Idaho falls at 25, right in the middle of the list, it’s still too high," she says. "There’s still much more work to be done. We need to be pressing for a normalized conversation on sex education, and birth control, and the efficacy of birth control.”
Glundberg-Prosser says when teens get comprehensive sex education they tend to wait longer to become sexually active than those who don’t receive any. That’s backed up by a study just last month from the reproductive health advocacy group the Guttmacher Institute.
Idaho fared better than some of its neighbors Wyoming, Nevada, and Montana. But Utah, Oregon, and Washington had lower rates.