Study says teen birth rates in Utah declining, saving public money

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A file photo of a pregnant woman.

SALT LAKE CITY – A new study shows that Utah teens are having fewer children, and are saving millions of dollars of public money.

The analysis from Power to Decide stated that there was a 63 percent decrease in teen birth rates from 1991 to 2015, which translates to 3,400 less births. This decrease in numbers adds up to $24 million saved in public spending over the course of 2013.

Power to Decide, a non-profit organization, said the declining number is due to investments in sex education, and better access to contraceptives.

”There are a lot of different factors that have contributed to those declines, one of them is increased access to reliable forms of contraception,” said Elizabeth Gerke, a teen pregnancy prevention specialist at the Utah Department of Health. “We also know that fewer teens are engaging in sexual activity, more of them are waiting until they’re a little bit older.”

The study stated that in Utah, 33 percent of women age 13-44 are in need of publicly funded contraception, but 98 percent of those women live in areas, “without reasonable access to the full range of methods.”

Power to Decide said that in 2015 $4.4 billion of public money was saved nationally as a result of declines in teen birth rate.

”Every year we continue to see substantial decreases in our teen birth rates so we know that we’re doing something right,” Gerke said. “We know that we just need to continue to provide that information that young people need.”