September 17, 2013 — Mississippi's teen birth rate has declined from 65.6 births in 2008 to 46 in 2012, according to a report from the Mississippi Department of Health, the Jackson Clarion-Ledger reports.
Mary Currier, state health officer, said, "The decrease of teen births is due to a decrease in sexual activity among teens and an increase in the use of birth control," as well as sex education. She added, "It's still very high compared to the rest of the country, but we're moving in the right direction."
Mick Bullock, a spokesperson for Gov. Phil Bryant (R), said, "From the outset of his administration, Gov. Bryant has made confronting and reducing teen pregnancy in Mississippi a top priority. He established Healthy Teens for a Better Mississippi -- a diverse group of health professionals, business leaders, community partners, youth and state leaders -- to work around the state educating communities about how to reduce and prevent teen pregnancy" (Barnes, Jackson Clarion-Ledger, 9/14).
Infant Mortality Also Down
The state's infant mortality rate also is declining, although it remains above the national average.
In a release, the state's Department of Health said the 2012 infant mortality rate was 8.8 per 1,000 live births, down from 9.4 in 2011. The national average is 6.15 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2012 (AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 9/13).
Currier noted that the infant mortality and teen birth rates are linked, saying, "We know that being a teen mom is a major risk factor for infant mortality, so access to care and education for teens is important as well" (Jackson Clarion-Ledger, 9/14).