Baby Boom Boom

March 23, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
For the first time since the baby boom of the 1950's, the baby population has hit an all-time high. The National Center for Health Statistics said a record 4,317,000 babies were born in 2007. But health experts are concerned because the statistics show an increase in teenage pregnancy.

Valley hospitals noticed the baby boom months ago. At Clovis Community Hospital the maternity ward is literally bursting at the seams. A planned expansion in 2011 won't come soon enough.

The National Center for Health Statistics study shows more women of childbearing age are having babies - including those in their 30's and 40's. A record share of babies were born to unmarried women ? both older and younger women.

Dr. Marlene Bengiamin, a senior researcher with the Central Valley Health Policy Institute has great concern about the increase in the number of teenage moms. She said, "The lack of education, the barriers to healthcare, the barriers to knowledge and education...what's there for them to do... for those teens? In Huron, for example, what is there for them to do? "

Dr. Bengiamin said a poor economy can have a big impact in the area of unwanted pregnancies. It takes money to buy contraceptives and many sex education programs have gone the way of music and physical education in high schools with California budget cuts.

Here are the facts. 52 percent of all babies born in the U.S. in 2007 were to teenagers.

In California 50 percent were teen pregnancies, but in Fresno County 56 percent were teen pregnancies and in Tulare County 58 percent or almost two out of every three pregnancies were to teen moms. Teen moms often don't have the prenatal care they need putting them at risk for complications.

At Fresno's Planned Parenthood, they're seeing a different reason for this new baby boom. Mica Ghimenti, Planned Parenthood educator said, "People who would normally use insurance, maybe they lost their job and no longer have access to their normal family doctor or practitioner they would go to ... they don't know where the resources are in Fresno County."

Ghimenti said many married couples, just like teens, are having sex with no protection and getting pregnant

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