Digging Deeper: Too many pregnant teens - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Digging Deeper: Too many pregnant teens

David Smith, Alpha Pregnancy Center Exec. Director. David Smith, Alpha Pregnancy Center Exec. Director.

After investigating a third infant death this year over the weekend, the Dougherty District Attorney says something must be done to curb teen pregnancy.

The most recent incident happened early Saturday when a medical call was made for the mother at a home on Collins Street.

Investigators found the remains of a pre-mature infant in a garbage can.

The Child Death Investigation Team is still looking into this case. Because this is a second pregnancy for the mother it's left both the district attorney and health officials questioning where the breakdown is in the system that they're not reaching these young moms.

The latest infant death is raising red flags for Dougherty's District Attorney, Greg Edwards. "It is a problem we see quite frequently with many teens as they will have a child and immediately become pregnant again and that's not uncommon."

 Southwest Georgia Regional Health Department's Dr. Jacqueline Grant say nearly a third of all teen pregnancies here in south Georgia are repeat pregnancies. "That's a missed opportunity because these are women that's been in the health care system."

But how to address the problem. It isn't necessarily a lack of resources. The Alpha Pregnancy Center recently moved into a new building and over the last month and have gone from helping a dozen girls a month to helping 76 in May.

"The average age was 22 and the youngest was 14," said David Smith, Alpha Pregnancy Center Exec. Director.

They've been trying to get the word out that resources including free ultrasounds are available.

 "She's been in schools, getting the word out, we also have billboards and toll free numbers, website, and Facebook and everything trying to really let the ladies in the community that are going through a crisis pregnancy know that we're here for them," said Smith.

Health officials say there's also help under federal programs and Medicaid and that's now extended to include family planning services, available at all health departments, but it doesn't go far enough to address the problem.

"You don't have anything that you link with your positive self esteem and you know a strong faith system would help for that bust a lot of unfortunately these kids don't have that either so give them that self esteem and worth that I can do something and this pregnancy occurring so early is going to keep me from doing it," said Grant.

They say to tackle that problem it's going to take the Chamber of Commerce, Church groups, and other organizations and volunteers coming together to break the cycle to give young women and men an incentive to avoid an unplanned pregnancy. 

Health officials say they know where these teen pregnancies are occurring because they've checked the number and mapped them. They say they're occurring in the highest poverty areas.

Health officials say transportation is the biggest obstacle to getting help for some expectant mothers. Especially in rural areas where some mothers have no transportation to local health departments.


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