Teen birth rates are on the rise in Texas for the first time in 15 years, and prevention is more important than ever. The Texas teen birth rate is now 50% higher than the national average. A baby is born to a teen mom every 25 minutes in Texas. And every day and a half, a baby is born to a girl in Texas between the ages of 10-14. 

Sexually transmitted infections, or STIs, are also on the rise. Teens need access to accurate information about how their bodies work, what healthy relationships are, and how to prevent unintended pregnancy and STIs. That’s why at Healthy Futures of Texas, we advocate for young people to have access to the knowledge they need for a lifetime of health. Age-appropriate health education can help young people delay pregnancy until they’re ready to start a family.

Research consistently shows Texas parents want schools to be partners in providing teens with the information they need to stay safe and healthy. Teens tell us they want to receive sex education from trusted sources, but too many young people in our state are left in the dark. For 15 years, the teen birth rate in Texas and nationwide has steadily declined. But that changed in 2022, when Texas saw its first increase in teen births since 2007, according to data recently released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While this increase is small, it’s a concerning turn that looks even more worrisome when we dive in deeper. Only seven states reported higher teen birth rates than Texas. 

The increase was concentrated among younger children. Birth rates for 19-year-olds continued to decline. However, there were an extra 517 births to teens aged 15-18 and also a small increase in births to children aged 10-14. Birth rates for Black and Hispanic youths are increasing, and disparities are getting worse. In 2021, the birth rate for Hispanic teens aged 15-19 was 2.4 times higher than that for white teens. This gap grew to 2.6 times higher in 2022.

The increase happened across our state. Two-thirds of Texas counties experienced an increase in teen birth rates, according to available data. We saw increases of 10% or higher in wealthy suburban counties, such as Fort Bend and Tarrant, and in rural counties, such as Johnson and Kaufman, and in urban counties, such as Lubbock and Midland. In Bexar County, the teen birth rate increased from 19.4 in 2021 to 20.2 in 2022.

Repeat births remained high. Texas continues to have a high rate of repeat teen births — 16% of these births were to teens who already had at least one baby.

People younger than 25 account for more than half of all new cases of sexually transmitted infections in Texas. The cases are on the rise. Syphilis, which a few decades ago seemed to be going the way of the dinosaurs, is making a raging comeback. Teens have the highest incidence of any age group of syphilis in pregnancy, which can result in death or lifelong disability in babies.

These alarming statistics, which are trending upward, underscore the sense of urgency we need from policymakers, parents, and school districts to support and offer sexual health education and to develop supportive systems for this generation and the next.

We encourage you to support Healthy Futures of Texas and our work in advancing informed sexual health news: https://hftx.org/take-action/.

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