Birth Outcomes Priority Area
- 10% reduction in the birth rate for women ages 15-19
- 3% reduction in the infant mortality rate
- 5% reduction in premature deliveries
In 2013, Spartanburg County’s birth rate for mothers ages 15-19 was 32.9%. This is down from 63.3% in 2008, but still above the state rate of 31.6% for South Carolina and the US rate of 26.6%.
What is being done?
Since 2008, there has been a concerted effort in Spartanburg County to reduce teen pregnancy rates, and it has been successful. In 2008, Spartanburg County was ranked 19th highest in teen births in the state. In 2015, the county ranks 31st out of 46 counties.
Part of this success has been the result of work at the Point Teen Health Center. In the last two years, there has been a 115% increase in young people visiting The Point and choosing a long-acting reversible contraceptive method (LARC). LARC methods leave very little room for error, and work for three years or more depending on which option is selected. The Point is leading the state in this work, and the community is helping by making that sure teens know about the Point.
There also have been huge strides in eliminating the racial disparity in teen births. In 2008, the 15-17 year-old teen birth rate for African-Americans was 43.5%, while the rate for white teens in the same age group was 22.5%. By the end of 2013, the 15-17 year-old teen birth rate for African-Americans was 13.5%, compared to 12.9% for white teens in the same age group. There is almost no difference between the two groups now, though we started with a disparity of 43.5% to 22.5%!
Is there an example of success?
As part of this project, BirthMatters facilitated Community Voices, a 10-week training session for adults at a Spartanburg County Housing Authority location. The training taught attendees about sexual and reproductive health, and connected them to community resources with a goal to eventually hire a community health worker to serve as a peer educator of sorts in that neighborhood.
Though BirthMatters set a goal of 10 people completing the 10-week training, 21 women completed it. The transformational process those women underwent was incredible. They learned information about their bodies, their health, and their children that they never knew before. Perhaps the women hadn’t been talking to their children about sex because they didn’t know enough themselves to be able to answer questions, or perhaps they felt ashamed of some of their own choices in life.
At the graduation meeting, one of the women stood and said, “I started this training with a whisper. I leave with a voice to improve my community.”
Though it may not sound directly related to teen pregnancy, these moments impact lives and are why we do what we do. We want everyone find their voice and to use it—to recognize their value and worth. As we do more of this work, we as a community help young people to understand their value and worth and to seek the very best for themselves—which can mean delaying pregnancy until they’re ready for it!