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DPH revises data analysis to allow more timely access to data

BOSTON — Teens in Massachusetts aged 15-19 are giving birth at the lowest level ever recorded in the state, according to the latest data contained in the 2013 Massachusetts Birth Report which was released today. This historically low rate is reflected across all racial and ethnic groups, in communities both large and small across the Commonwealth.

“This is terrific news for all Massachusetts families, and a dramatic indication that our decisions to invest in our young people – through education, support and resources – can have a real and lasting impact on their lives and in their communities,” said Governor Deval Patrick.

The new report indicates that the birth rate among teens reached a historic low of 12.0 births per 1,000 women ages 15-19. This represents a decline of 14% from the 2012 rate of 14.0 births per 1,000 women in that age bracket.

“Teen pregnancy can have serious consequences in so many aspects of a young person’s future, from lower educational attainment to higher rates of marital instability and single parenthood,” said Executive Office of Health and Human Services Secretary John Polanowicz. “That’s why it is so important that we continue to work with our partners to drive the teen birth rate even lower.”

The 2013 Birth Report also marks the debut of a new, more compact format for the presentation of population health data by the Department. The new format contains a brief summary of birth data, comparisons to recent years in order to note emerging trends, and six special topic areas created to stir more thorough discussion on a variety of health issues related to pregnancy.

The changes reflect a renewed commitment by DPH to streamline the processes by which health data is collected, analyzed, and released to the public. These efforts have been spearheaded by a newly-created Office of Data Management and Outcomes Assessment.

“One of my driving passions during my time leading the Department has been to ensure that our partners and stakeholders have access to the absolute latest health data to inform our decision-making together,” said DPH Commissioner Cheryl Bartlett. “I’m delighted to see our efforts bearing fruit with the release of today’s report.”

Other key data points reflected in the 2013 Birth Report include:

* Improvements in oral health: In 2013, the percentage of pregnant women who had their teeth cleaned by a dentist or dental hygienist rose to 46%. Pregnancy can alter or complicate oral health in women, which can lead to adverse pregnancy outcomes and poor oral health in their children.

* Stability in rates of gestational diabetes: In 2013, the prevalence of gestational diabetes (GDM) was 5.3%, which is comparable to the 2012 prevalence of 5.6%.

* Promising news in rates of obesity among pregnant women: In 2013, more than half of mothers (53.1%) had a normal body mass index (BMI) prior to becoming pregnant.

* A slight decrease in rates of cesarean delivery: In 2013, the cesarean delivery rate was 31.5%, compared to 31.7% in 2012. This figure was 4% lower than the percentage for the entire United States (32.7%).

The entire 2013 Massachusetts Birth Report can be viewed here. A special digest focused on the Teen Birth Rate data can be viewed here.

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