El Paso teen pregnancy rates higher than Texas average

Monica Cortez-KTSM
Tuesday, January 14, 2014 - 6:17pm

Texas ranks now have one of the three highest teen pregnancy rates in the country and the numbers here in El Paso are even higher.

The state has placed a price tag on pregnant teens of $1.2 billion.

And that's the price tax payers have to pay in the state of Texas.

But one teen mom said she is trying to bring awareness and a message of prevention to the community.

"I never expected to get pregnant," said Brittany Vargas, a 22-year-old teen mom.

And Vargas' journey as a teen mother hasn't been an easy one.

"I was pregnant my whole senior year...I got pregnant the summer before and I had him 3 months before I graduated,” she said. It was trying to go to school with [my baby]. I was working a job during my whole pregnancy and going to school."

Vargas isn't alone.

According to the El Paso department of public health, El Paso surpasses Texas in teen pregnancy numbers.

Statewide there are 65 pregnant teens for every 1,000 teens.

In El Paso there are 80 pregnant teens for every 1,000 teens.

"Even though El Paso consistently has a higher teen birth rate than the rest of Texas, the rate is actually dropping,” said Randy Gutierrez, training specialist for health education and promotion at the El Paso Department of Public Health

While the rate may be dropping there is another statistic slowly climbing up.

"We want to try and decrease those repeat teen births, because currently Texas is first in the nation in repeat teen births."

Across El Paso, Del Sol women and teen clinics are opening up and clinic director Rebecca Mendoza said she hopes that the more clinics they have, the more help they can provide to teens.

"It’s very important that they do get early prenatal care. We do have a high rate of pregnancy although we can keep lowering it by doing some prevention. So we are anticipating our 8th free standing clinic in the next couple of weeks," said Mendoza.

Along with the clinics, Vargas hopes that talking about her experience will make a difference as well, it’s a conversation she never got.

"I wish I would have had people come up to me and tell me and explain to me,” said Vargas. “And I just want them to hear it and understand it and treasure it."

The El Paso Department of Public Health said they offer programs that can help prevent teens from getting pregnant.

Del Sol Women and Teen clinics offer free pregnancy tests, and the Child Crisis Center offers help for those teen moms who need it.

For more information on the programs offered by El Paso Department of Public Health visit their website. http://home.elpasotexas.gov/health/health-education.php

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