Printer-friendly page Printer-friendly page

Issue #16 January/February 2012

HERE'S TO 2012!

Although we know the work done by the North Carolina Healthy Start Foundation and our statewide partners is important and can be life-saving, progress is often difficult to measure. So, it is very good news that a series of reports issued in late 2011 show quantifiable results have been achieved. This issue of Healthy Start Happenings focuses on improvements in teen pregnancy but North Carolina's children, from birth through the teen years, also have experienced improvements. What a great way to start 2012.  Let's keep it going!

Women's Health

Teen Pregnancy Disparities Still Exist

Congratulations to all the programs working to reduce teen pregnancy in our state. Teenage pregnancies (defined as ages 15-19) dropped from 19,941 in 2000 to 15,957 in 2010 (about 20%). The numbers for both live births and abortions among teen girls, ages 15-19, dropped by about 35%. Still, North Carolina's teen birth rates are higher than the national average. According to the National Vital Statistics Systems, the birth rate for teenage pregnancy in the United States (ages 15-19), dropped to 34.3 per 1,000 in 2010; the lowest reported teen pregnancy birth rate ever, in the United States. North Carolina’s pregnancy rate, for ages 15-19, is 49.7 per 1,000.

Although there is a drop in the teenage pregnancy rate in North Carolina and the U.S., some disparities remain among racial and ethnicity groups. As of 2010, African American teens accounted for 6,292 pregnancies (70.2 per 1,000); Hispanic teens accounted for 2,456 pregnancies (82.7 per 1,000) and whites accounted for 6,525 pregnancies (34.4 per 1,000) in North Carolina. There are also disparities in geographical areas of North Carolina. Teen pregnancy ranks highest in rural counties of North Carolina. Counties such as Onslow, Vance, Pamlico, Scotland, Richmond, Robeson, Lee, Montgomery, Edgecombe and Halifax all have rates higher than the State of North Carolina.

2010 North Carolina Teen Pregnancies (Ages 15‐19)
County Rankings



Type of County

Total Pregnancies

Rate Per 1,000

NC Rate Per 1,000





















































Data Source: NC Department of Health and Human Services, State Center for Health Statistics

It is important to continue efforts to prevent teenage pregnancy in the U.S. as well as North Carolina. Programs that teach prevention using multi-approach methods as well as involve schools, community groups, governments, families, physicians, educators, as well as youth will assist in creating comprehensive programs that focus on teen pregnancy prevention.


2010 Pregnancies Ranked by County Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Campaign of North Carolina-Durham, NC

2010 African American Pregnancies Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Campaign of North Carolina-Durham, NC

2010 Hispanic Pregnancies Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Campaign of North Carolina-Durham, NC

2010 White Pregnancies Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Campaign of North Carolina-Durham, NC

NC Pregnancy Trends 1980-2010 Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Campaign of North Carolina-Durham, NC

Vital Statistics Data NC State Center for Health Statistics

2010 NC RESIDENT PREGNANCY RATES NC State Center for Health Statistics

National Vital Statistics Reports - Births to Teenagers in the United States, 1940-2000

Births: Preliminary Data for 2010

Back to top

Circle of teenage faces

Infant Safe Sleep

Breastfeeding, Immunizations and Bumper Pads

Updated SIDS/Infant Safe Sleep Guidelines

In October 2011 the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released expanded guidelines for SIDS and other sleep-related infant deaths. While recommendations have not changed dramatically, certain practices are now receiving increased emphasis.

No bumper pads. Bumper pads are as common as mobiles when it comes to buying crib decorations - they come in sets with comforters and pillows to dress-up a baby's crib. However, bumper pads pose a potential risk for suffocation, strangulation or entrapment and there is no evidence that they do anything to prevent injury.

So, if they are so dangerous, why can they be sold? Some states are trying to ban them but it takes time for the laws to catch up with the science. In the mean time, parents must know the danger of using these decorations. A firm mattress and a tight fitted sheet are all that are needed in a safe crib.

Breastfeed but do not bed share. Studies show that breastfeeding is associated with a reduced risk of SIDS. In North Carolina only 67% of mothers have ever breastfed their children and only 37% of women still breastfeed after six months. There are many reasons why a new mom chooses to breastfeed or not but all women should be aware of the many health benefits involved, including reducing the risk of SIDS.

While the benefits of breastfeeding are unparalleled, bed sharing to encourage breastfeeding puts a baby at a higher risk for SIDS and sleep related death. Instead, moms should room share - keep a bassinet or small crib within arm’s reach of her bed so she can easily and safely put her baby to sleep when feeding has finished.

Immunize. Parents often fear having their children immunized. These fears can stem from media scares and unscientific research. Both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatricians state that vaccines do not put children at increased risk for SIDS. In fact, evidence suggests that immunizations may reduce the risk of SIDS by 50%. Therefore, healthy children should be encouraged to receive all immunizations recommended by their pediatrician.

The North Carolina Healthy Start Foundation will be updating its Infant Safe Sleep materials to reflect the increased emphasis on these recommendations. Please check back with us in the coming months for more information.

Back to top

Mother with baby in crib


When a Teen Needs You: Supporting Pregnancy Prevention

We all remember our teenage years. The time spent searching for that special dress or matching suit for the prom. Learning how to drive for the very first time or even walking across the stage to receive your high school diploma. Sadly some of the fond memories we hold so dear don’t happen for nearly 1 in 20
North Carolina teen girls because they got pregnant. Many of them drop out of high school and don’t return. This lack of education unfortunately may have long-term effects such as poverty and poor health outcomes for their children. Even though the teen pregnancy rate is on a steady decline, accounting for 11% of all N.C. births in 2010, it continues to be a critical issue in our state.

As an organization how can you help young moms and promote teen pregnancy prevention in your community?

Caroline Hightower, RICHES member and TIPS Coordinator for the non profit Anson County Anson Sounty Partnership for Children logoPartnership for Children (ACPC), is helping young moms make positive transitions into motherhood through the Teen Information and Parenting Service Program (TIPS). TIPS offers support and education services to pregnant and parenting teen mothers 19 years of age or younger.

According to the N.C. State Center for Health Statistics, nearly 20 percent of Anson County's population was at or below poverty level in 2009. It also ranked as one of the highest in terms of teen pregnancy rates among girls 15 to 19 years of age.

The ACPC's mission is to help make Anson County a better place to be a child and to raise a child. All of its programs focus on five core areas: child care quality, child care accessibility, child care affordability, health care and family support. TIPS is one of many programs customized by the ACPC to meet community needs.

Hightower explained: "The teen mothers we work with usually need transportation to appointments for themselves and their children, information about birth control, guidance, child care and condoms. All of our participants are required to be on some form of birth control. We also do outreach in schools, and take referrals from health departments and department of social services."

The RICHES Choices That Matter Tool Kit and the family planning flashcards Hightower said have both been instrumental to the TIPS program. She said sometimes it is difficult to break through to teens when discussing certain types of birth control methods. However the flashcards make it easier for TIPS leaders to present and for teens to understand.

"We try to help each teen select which type of birth control best suits their lifestyle," she said. "I use the family planning method flashcards to help the participants understand how each method works and which method they want to choose."

Hightower said they use the tool kit to get the conversation started with young moms on issues regarding birth spacing, reproductive health and benefits of family planning. She said the most common misconception among teen girls is the immense amount of responsibility they have after the child is born.

"Many think they will have more help from their child's father then they in fact receive," she said. "The tool kit offers excellent information on family planning and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs). These topics are specifically important to discuss because these are issues they face day to day."

Hightower looks forward to connecting with other organizations in the RICHES Network that work with young moms. She encourages more organizations to join the RICHES Network to reap the many benefits it offers.

"It is always helpful to connect with other non-profit organizations similar to our Partnership and also other organizations in our area to help increase our collaborations," she said. "RICHES is a great organization to become involved in because it provides opportunities for networking and provides new ideas and resources to incorporate into your program."

RICHES is dedicated to improving the health of women, particularly minorities and those living in low-wealth communities, by creating opportunities for community-based organizations to educate, encourage and support women in adopting healthier lifestyles and behaviors. To learn more about RICHES visit us online at

Back to top

Young girl looking at an at-home pregnancy test

Latina Health

Need Remains Strong for Hispanic Teen Pregnancy Programs

The news about record lows for teen pregnancy in North Carolina is especially encouraging for those working on prevention efforts with Hispanic youth. Rates of Hispanic teen pregnancy dropped 30% from 118.4 per 1,000 in 2009 to 82.7 per 1000 in 2010. Despite this strong progress, disparities persist among racial and ethnic groups with Hispanics having the highest teen pregnancy rate in the state.

Teen pregnancy has significant social and economic costs on teen parents and their children. Teen parents are less likely to finish high school than teens who do not get pregnant. In addition, the children of teenage parents are more likely to have lower school achievement, health problems, be incarcerated and become a teen parent themselves. These stressors perpetuate long-term health disparities across generations.

Why are pregnancy rates higher for Hispanic youth? According to the Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Campaign of North Carolina (APPCNC), the answer is a combination of the following factors:

  • Lack of Spanish-language providers and programs; and other barriers to accessing health care services
  • Cultural norms including a high-value placed on motherhood, and religious opposition to contraceptive use and abortion
  • Social isolation, lack of familiarity with the health care system, fear of deportation, and inability to access higher education

There remains a strong need for teen pregnancy prevention programs that reach Hispanic youth and their families in North Carolina. Community-based, culturally appropriate programs that work directly with teens and their families seem to be most effective. If you are interested in starting a program in your community, consider the following resources:

The North Carolina Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiatives (TPPI) of the NC DHHS, funds community programs that both prevent teen pregnancy and support teen parents. Programs focusing on Latinos are encouraged to apply.

Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Campaign of North Carolina’s (APPCNC) Hispanic Outreach Initiative helps communities find science-based prevention programs, understand cultural and language barriers to prevention, and offers networking opportunities for professionals serving Hispanic teens and families.

APPCNC also provides a list of evidence-based programs that have been proven effective in reducing teen pregnancy among Latinos.

If you are a provider seeking to connect Hispanic youth with pregnancy prevention programs in North Carolina, consider the following:

Wise Guys/ Jovenes Sabios y Sabias
of the Family Life Council in Greensboro, is an award winning program which provides health education to prevent teen pregnancy and STIs and promotes healthy decision-making and healthy relationships among Latino youth.

Our Rights Have No Borders, of El Pueblo, Inc, is a reproductive health program which trains Latina youth in Wake, Durham, Orange and Chatham counties on sexual and reproductive health topics.

Joven a Joven/ Teen Voices of Planned Parenthood of Central NC is a peer education program which trains Latino youth on reproductive health topics including pregnancy prevention. Offered in Durham and Orange Counties.

Hablando Claro/ Plain Talk
a program that improves adult/teen communication about sex, and increase teens' access to contraceptives. Currently offered in Chatham County.

Coalition for Families, Lee County
offers two programs for teens: Teen Outreach Program and Teen Track for teen parents.
*Note: Most of the programs above can be used as models for replication in other communities.

Additional resources:

2010 North Carolina Teen Pregnancy Statistics

Information about the CDC’s Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative

Back to top

Group of hispanic youth

Foundation News

Here's to 2012 and Other Good Numbers

Did you know ...

  • N.C.'s infant mortality rate for 2010 is the LOWEST EVER in the state's history (7 deaths per 1,000 live births), an 11.4% reduction from 2009.
  • N.C.'s teen pregnancy rate in 2010 is the LOWEST EVER in the state's history (49.7 per 1,000 15-19 year olds), an 11% decrease from 2009.
  • N.C.'s child death rate is the LOWEST EVER in the state's history (67 deaths per 100,000), a 13.4% decrease from 2009.
  • N.C. SIDS deaths in 2010 are the LOWEST EVER in the state's history (a 46% decrease from 98 deaths in 2009 to 53 in 2010).

The evidence is clear that women who are healthy before they become pregnant and plan their pregnancies are more likely to have healthy babies than others. And that's just what the North Carolina Healthy Start Foundation has been helping women do. We provide information and resources to pregnant women and new mothers through our Web site, educational materials, trainings and most recently a three-year initiative, Young Mom's Connect, a collaboration with the N.C. Division of Public Health, UNC-Greensboro and the March of Dimes made possible by a federal grant.

Through radio and television and social media including a Web site, Facebook and a responsive texting service, the Foundation ensures that Young Moms Connect project coordinators and program recipients in five counties have access to reliable health information, free resources and can connect with young moms with others who may be in a similar situation. Learn more about Young Moms Connect and read weekly blogs from young moms about their experiences on Facebook.

For us 2012 is off to a good start and we will do our best to continue to improve the numbers and the lives of many more families.  Please join us!

Stay on top of our latest initiatives, new staff and new office location through our Web sites: and (Spanish). Please share this newsletter with others and tell them the good news.


Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Campaign in North Carolina – a statewide leader whose mission is to support North Carolina communities in preventing adolescent pregnancy through advocacy, collaboration and education.

Press release on 2010 teen pregnancy statistics

N.C. Child Fatality Task Force – a legislative study commission which makes recommendations to the General Assembly and Governor for their consideration.

N.C. State Center for Health Statistics – responsible for data collection, health-related research, production of reports and maintenance of a comprehensive health statistics.

Back to top

Young Moms Connect logo

Find us on Facebook   Forward this issue to a friend   Subscribe to our newsletter
 N.C. Healthy Start Foundation | 3725 National Drive, Suite 105| Raleigh, NC 27612 | 919-828-1819