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Nov 7, 2011 11:06 AM by David Ortiviz

Pueblo ranks 2nd in state for teen pregnancies

Last year, 324 teenage girls had babies in Pueblo County. Compared to other counties in the state, Pueblo has the second highest teen birth rate in all of Colorado.

"I think in the past we were passionate about changing it, but we weren't really doing what was evidence-based and shown to work," said Dr. Chris Nevin-Woods, Public Health Director of the Pueblo City-County Health Department.

In June, the health department released a study by John Snow Inc. which took an in-depth look at why so many teenage girls in Pueblo are having babies. In part, the study found teen still aren't getting the right message about sex and birth control.

Dr. Nevin-Woods say abstinence is always the best practice, but she says teens also need to know if they're going to have sex, they need to use condoms and birth control. "That part of the study is so important that all adults in this community get on the same page and allow proper education of our young people," said Dr. Nevin-Woods.

For the first time ever, the health department is using an evidence-based program to address this issue. The Teen Outreach Program or TOP is for middle school children. It teaches kids about setting goals, improving self-esteem and reducing risky behavior. "TOP has actually been shown to decrease school drop-outs and teen pregnancy,"said Dr. Nevin-Woods.

The pilot program is currently available for middle school students in School District 70. For more information about the program call Kristi Roque at 719-583-4363.

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