In 2014 in the seven county Southeastern Michigan region Wayne County had the highest teen pregnancy rate at 57.4 per 1,000 female residents between the ages of 15 and 19. This rate is largely reflective of the 84.8 teen pregnancy rate that Detroit had that year; without including Detroit into the calculation Wayne County had a teen pregnancy rate of 37.1 in 2014. And, while Wayne County had the highest teen pregnancy rate in the region in 2014 that rate was the lowest it had been since 1989. This trend of declining teen birth rates not only occurred in Wayne County, but throughout the seven county region, and in the city of Detroit.
According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the teen pregnancy rates discussed in this post were calculated by taking the estimated number of pregnancies, dividing that number by the female population of 15-19 year olds in each respective county and then multiplying that number by 1,000. Pregnancy numbers are a sum of estimated live birth, miscarriages and abortions. Information to calculate these numbers were provided to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services through the Michigan Resident Live Birth Files, the Files of Induced Abortions Occurring in Michigan and the Michigan Division for Vital Records and Health Statistics.
In 2014 the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services reported there were an estimated 2,101 pregnancies amongst the 24,762 teens between the ages of 15-19 in the city of Detroit. As mentioned earlier, by excluding Detroit teen pregnancies from Wayne County the numbers significantly drop. This exclusion left Wayne County with a teen pregnancy rate of 37.1 in 2014, which is lower than St. Clair County’s pregnancy rate of 37.7 in 2014. St. Clair County’s pregnancy rate in 2014 is representative of a teen population of 5,011 females between the ages of 15-19, in which there were a reported 189 pregnancies. Only St. Clair and Wayne counties, along with the city of Detroit, had teen pregnancy rates above the state’s rate of 34.8 in the region. In Michigan in 2014 there were 330,141 females between the ages of 15-19; amongst this population there was an estimated 11,474 pregnancies. This produces a rate of 34.8
Washtenaw County had the lowest teen pregnancy rate in the region in 2014 at 14.2; this is representative of 213 estimated pregnancies amongst 15,510 females between the ages of 15-19.
Overall teen birth rates in Southeastern Michigan have been declining; this is also a national trend. Wayne County, including the teen birth rate for the city of Detroit, consistently had the highest rate in the region. As for the lowest rate, it changed from Livingston County in 2005 to Washtenaw County in 2014. Additionally, while Wayne County had the highest teen birth rate in the region, it has also had the largest decrease of the seven counties. In 2005 the Wayne County teen birth rate was recorded at 76.5 and in 2014 that dropped to 57.4, a 19.1 decrease. In 2005 Washtenaw County’s teen birth rate was 28.2 (just above Livingston County’s rate at 24.9) and by 2014 it decreased to 14.2, making it the lowest teen birth rate in the region in 2014.
When not reviewing the teen birth rates solely at the county level we see that Detroit’s teen birth rates decreased from 107.8 to 84.8 between 2005 and 2014. This decrease was 23.8 points. While there was a decrease, Detroit’s pregnancy rates consistently remained above those in the seven county region. According to Michigan Planned Parenthood Communications Manager Julie McKeiver, both teen pregnancy, and abortion rates, tend to be higher in large cities and rural areas that have low income and low minority populations. This occurs because of the lack of access to health care and related services, she said. To help combat such high rates, Planned Parenthood of Michigan offers a Peer Education program in Detroit, which aims to educate teens on their sexual health. This education, according to McKeiver, is meant to empower the teens in the program, who will then share what they learned with their peers. This program is funded by the State of Michigan’s Taking Pride in Prevention Program (TPIPP). The TPIPP is statewide initiative that also aims to reduce pregnancy. The TPIPP not only funds the Detroit Peer Education Program but also the Safer Choices teen pregnancy curricula that Planned Parenthood implements in Detroit schools and community-based organizations, McKeiver said. This curricula touches on subjects such as delaying the initiation of sex and increasing the use of protection, according to the website.
Although programs are in place in Detroit that aim to decrease the pregnancy rate through education the question remains on how much impact those have versus the impact the lack of health care access that low income communities face.
In addition to teen pregnancy rates, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services also tracks teen abortion rates. The city of Detroit had the highest rate at 26.3; there was a reported 652 abortions for the teen female population of 24,763 in 2014. When excluding Detroit, Wayne County had a teen abortion rate of 13; when including Detroit, Wayne County had a teen abortion rate of 18.7. The county with the next highest abortion rate was Macomb at 10.1; there were a reported 264 abortions for the 26,060 females between 15 to 19 in the county. The county with the lowest abortion rate was Monroe at 3.7. Michigan had a teen abortion rate of 8.6 in 2014 and the only other county in the region above that rate was Oakland County with a teen abortion rate of 8.8 ( 340 reported abortions for a population of 38,676).
The ability to view the abortion rates by county over a length of time was not made available by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. DrawingDetroit will continue pursuing these data.