During the past five years, the rate of teenage girls becoming pregnant has declined substantially in all but two states. You guessed it: West Virginia is one of them (the other is North Dakota).
Our state's rate of births to females 15-19 years of age is 44.8 per 1,000, according to the Centers for Disease Control. That is the ninth highest among the states - and, again, it hasn't gotten much better. The rate is about the same as it was five years ago.
For both babies and mothers, pregnancy at an early age is risky in many ways. Because of their young age, few of these young mothers understand the responsibility they will soon be facing. Oftentimes these young mothers-to-be cannot afford good prenatal care which can cause health issues for the child. And, because many teen mothers often are forced to leave school to care for their babies, these moms will be on taxpayer-funded government subsistence for years to come.
And, unfortunately, this cycle of poverty - for both the mother and the child - likely will continue for years.
Clearly, West Virginia needs to do more about the problem. For all our sakes, it is one that needs a solution.