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Fewer Hennepin County teens are becoming moms

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The teen birth rate in Hennepin County continued its downward trend in 2013, the county announced Wednesday.

In 2013, a total of 597 babies were born to mothers between the 15 and 19 years old – a 15 percent decrease from 2012 when 701 babies were born to teen moms in the county.

That compares to a statewide teen birth rate decline of 9 percent in 2013, and the national rate dropping 10 percent.

Since 2007, the teen birth rate in Hennepin County has been cut in half – 1,170 babies were born to teenagers in the county that year.

Despite the significant drop in teenagers giving birth, county officials note certain groups of people – including minorities, teens in foster care, those in the corrections system or victims of sexual assault – have a higher teen birth rate compared to others.

Why the plunge?

The plunge in teen birth rate in Hennepin County is attributed to programs that divert teenagers away from risky behaviors, or educate them on staying safe and healthy once they become sexually active, the county notes.

WCCO addressed the drop in birth rates in its "Good Question" segment, where experts pointed to a few potential reasons, including teens waiting longer to have sex, access to healthcare and better contraception use, as well as improved contraceptive counseling.

"Hennepin County is outperforming the rest of the state and country, and the persistent decline is a clear return on our investments," Commissioner Mike Opat said in a news release. "Teen parenthood is devastating to the potential of young people. We must continue to drive these rates down."

The county says people who don't become parents as teenagers are less likely to live in poverty and rely on public assistance.

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