By Hernan Delgado, MD, Lead Pediatrician and Nicole Mitton, Grants and Communications Specialist
Teen pregnancy has serious consequences. In the US, 33% of girls and 19% of boys drop out of high school because of teen parenthood. In Massachusetts, approximately 2,600 high school students drop out of school each year because of teen parenthood.
That means that each year, 2,600 young families across the state face near-certain poverty, with heavy costs to individuals, families, communities, and society. And so the cycle of poverty continues, since the children of poor teen mothers with limited education are much more likely to be poor themselves (Massachusetts Alliance on Teen Pregnancy [MATP], 2010).
In 2009, there were 520 births to young women ages 15-19 in Boston, representing 6.5% of the city’s total births (7,958). Boston had the 23rd highest teen birth rate in the state, at 26.4 births per 1,000 young women, 35% higher than the state rate (MATP).
There are also disparities in teen pregnancies due to ethnicity. Among all live births to Boston teens aged 18-19, 41.9 per 1,000 were to black teens; and 46.3 were to Hispanic teens. By contrast, white non-Hispanic teens had a rate of 2.5 (Boston Public Health Commission, 2015).
Services for Teens at Whittier Street Health Center
Being a parent while a teenager is very difficult—students may not be able to meet even their own basic needs in the competitive Boston economy, where the vast majority of jobs that pay good wages require post-high school education.
At Whittier Street Health Center, we provide direct patient care to teenagers in our Pediatrics Department, which serves children and youth ages 0 to 21. Our team is composed of two MDs, a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, and two nurses. The providers screen teenagers for sexual activity in a confidential and respectful manner, without the parents in room, if they are more comfortable that way.
Whittier providers offer counseling, discuss scenarios that may lead to pregnancy, and advice about sexual health. We recommend that you speak with your provider before a making decision about having sex, or if you have a new partner. Our clinic can prescribe Plan B after consultation with the patient.
If a young woman age 16 or 17 is pregnant, she is referred to our OB/GYN Department, which offers CenteringPregnancy, a group prenatal education program that teaches pregnant women about how to care for themselves and their babies. After delivery, participants form a strong network of support and may choose to enroll in the Pediatrics Department’s CenteringParenting program, a one-year program for new parents.
Tips for Preventing Teen Pregnancy
Sex is serious business! Before making a decision, having a new partner, or before you stop using condoms, please:
- Talk to your provider! Here at Whittier, we are very accessible, and make sure that appointments can be made quickly, even on the same day.
- Get tested! Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) have lasting consequences for your health and well-being.
- Ask your partner to get tested! An ideal sexual relationship is founded on mutual respect and openness, and caring for each other’s health and safety.
Please contact our Pediatrics Department today at 617-989-3112 or go online at our Patient Portal if you would like to schedule an appointment for yourself (if you are aged 18 and above) or your teen!