Teen pregnancy rate drops

Attending school requires pulling off a balancing act for Central High School senior Brittany Wesche.
Krystle Wagner
Apr 8, 2013

Wesche, 18, also works and cares for her 2-year-old daughter, Izabellah.

Wesche is one of about 365,000 American teens who gave birth in 2010.

Wesche said her life changed when she found out she was pregnant.

“I was really scared,” she recalled. “I couldn’t even say the word ‘pregnant’ without throwing up.”

The then-14-year-old was nervous about telling her parents. She said they were upset, but they supported her in the end.

Wesche said her parents offered to adopt Izabellah and raise her, but Wesche instead decided to become a teenage mother.

Throughout her pregnancy, Wesche said her school attendance and grades declined. She took maternity leave from school toward the end of her pregnancy.

Wesche said it has been a struggle to attend school and care for her daughter, and she couldn’t do it without the support of her family and school officials. She is on track to graduate this spring and attend Baker College in the fall.

“I cherish the moments I have with her,” Wesche said of her daughter.

The number of teens ages 15-19 having children has decreased 29 percent in Ottawa County within recent years. In 2007, 397 teens gave birth in the county, while 283 teens gave birth in 2011. The county rate decreased 16 percent from 2010 to 2011, while the national rate dropped 8 percent during that time.

Heather Alberda, reproductive health educator for the Ottawa County Health Department, said one reason for declining teen births could relate to the increase in contraceptive use and more teens delaying sexual activity.

Alberda said the Health Department is working with teen parents in the Holland and Zeeland areas to document their lives and struggles.

To read more of this story, see today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.

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