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State says teen birth rate dropped 40%

DENVER — Gov. John Hickenlooper said Thursday the teen birth rate in Colorado dropped 40 percent from 2009 to 2013.

He attributed the decline to an initiative by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment that helps low-income women get contraceptives.

“Unintended pregnancies, especially among teenagers, carry health risks for mother and baby,” said Dr. Larry Wolk, department executive director and chief medical officer, in a news release. “Our Colorado Family Planning Initiative has helped thousands of young women who weren’t ready to have children avoid pregnancy with affordable, safe and effective contraceptives.”

The CDPHE initiative handed out more than 30,000 intrauterine devices (IUDs) or implants at low or no cost to low-income women at 68 family planning clinics across Colorado since 2009, said spokesman Mark Salley.

He said the decline in births among young women served by these agencies accounted for three-quarters of the overall decline in birth rate.

“This initiative has saved Colorado millions of dollars,” said Gov. Hickenlooper. “But more importantly, it has helped thousands of young Colorado women continue their education, pursue their professional goals and postpone pregnancy until they are ready to start a family.”

Seven of 10 teen pregnancies in Colorado are unintended, Sally said. Many of these pregnancies will face complications including birth defects and low birth weight.