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IU Adolescent Health researcher joins Clinton County program on teen pregnancy education


INDIANAPOLIS — Teen pregnancy prevention education in Clinton County, Indiana, will get support from an $86 million federal grant awarded to 50 teams nationwide to implement evidence-based sexual health education programs. The evaluation will be led by an Indiana University School of Medicine adolescent medicine researcher.

Mary A. Ott, M.D., associate professor of pediatrics, will work with Health Care Education and Training Inc., an Indianapolis-based nonprofit organization that provides education, training, evaluation services and program development to non-profit organizations in the Midwest. The organization, which was awarded the $3.7 million U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Adolescent Health grant, will coordinate the implementation of evidence-based teen pregnancy prevention programs in Clinton County in conjunction with Healthy Communities of Clinton County and other partners.

The Youth RISE! Project will provide teen pregnancy prevention education to the students of Community Schools of Frankfort and their families, while also focusing on improving school performance, attendance, classroom behavior and healthy decision making. The education programs are directed at both boys and girls.

Frankfort, the county seat of Clinton County, is about 45 miles north northwest of downtown Indianapolis. The county has a 2010 census population of 33, 224. According to health department reports, the Clinton County teen pregnancy rate is 2.5 times greater than the national average at 46.2 pregnancies per 1,000 females. Nationally, the teen average is 18 pregnancies per 1,000 females.

“The teen pregnancy rate in the U.S. is higher than any other high-income nation,” Dr. Ott said, “and comes with significant health, social and economic costs.

“Teen parents are less likely to enter pre-natal care early and more likely to have a low birth weight infant. They are less likely to finish their education, more likely to be unemployed and more likely to live in poverty. These negative outcomes do not just affect the teen parent, but are multigenerational and affect the teen parent’s child as well. It is estimated that teen pregnancy cost Indiana $227 million in 2010 alone.”

“The overall goal of this program is to decrease rates of teen pregnancy in Clinton County,” Dr. Ott said. “Initially, efforts will be focused on increasing knowledge of contraception and healthy relationships. Improving behaviors is a long-term goal of the educational programming, including delaying teen sexually activity and increasing contraception and condom use to improve reproductive and sexual health outcomes.”

Dr. Ott, who has been involved nationally in teen pregnancy prevention education and research for nearly 20 years, will serve as the grant evaluator, designing the surveys, processing the evaluations and analyzing the data.

Other partners in the program include Purdue Extension Service’s Learning Network of Clinton County and other community stakeholders.