Flathead Teen Pregnancy Rate One Of The State's Highest - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

Flathead Teen Pregnancy Rate One Of The State's Highest

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FLATHEAD COUNTY -

Results from the 2012-2013 Community Health Needs Assessment place Flathead county in the top ten Montana counties for teen pregnancy.

For every 1,000 live births in Flathead county, about 57 of the new moms are teenagers, that includes Brianne Amon, who was homeless when she gave birth to Loik at 18.

"We figured out something. We went and stayed with a couple family members. Right now, that's what we're doing still because we don't have a home," explained Brianne.

Flathead City-County health officials point to many factors that contribute to the high rate. Public Health Officer, Joe Russell, points out that more than 10,000 people in the county are at 100% poverty or worse.

"Teen pregnancy rates are associated with behaviors that would predict that. We also have some high alcohol use in our teens," said Russell.

"Historically we've seen the teen pregnancy rates are high in counties where Indian reservations lie. Here at Flathead we have reservations kind of surrounding us. We don't have one within our county, but we have had historically high teen pregnancy rate as well," said Holly Jordt, a Flathead public health nurse.

Officials say they are addressing the issue. Programs like Baby Steps, under the health department, aim to intervene early and break the cycle.

"Pre-term labor, premature birth, all of the healthcare costs associated with that, the increased incarceration rates in children born to teen parents, subsequent teen pregnancies in the children of those teen parents--so I think there's a lot that we can prevent by providing services, preventative services up front," said Jordt.

"My younger sister had her baby two days after I had him," Brianne mentioned.

Right now, Brianne and her fiance, Austin Stevens, are hoping to finish their last few high school credits.

"It's kind of an ongoing battle," said Brianne.

Russell says the Flathead county teen pregnancy rate is declining, although a report from the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services from 2011 shows the rate is climbing.

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