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Teen pregnancy rises in DuPage Co.
By Elisabeth Mistretta | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 7/30/2008 12:04 AM

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The number of children born to teens and preteens in DuPage County rose by almost 9 percent, according to the most recent figures released by the state.

The Illinois Department of Public Health released figures this week showing 557 girls ages 10 to 19 in DuPage gave birth in 2006, up from 513 in 2005.

The community with the most births to teens and preteens was West Chicago, with 75 children born in 2006, down one from 2005.

Officials at the not-for-profit Teen Parent Connection in Glen Ellyn, formerly known as Greater DuPage MYM, said this rise means they must find extra resources to offer more pregnancy prevention initiatives at area schools. as well as programs for teen parents.

"One factor contributing to this is that our community keeps growing and so, like any statistic, teen birth rates will rise with a population growth," said Lora Vitek, spokeswoman for Teen Parent Connection. "But, at the same time, the numbers have been holding fairly steady in recent years and then suddenly it's up by (about) 40 teen births. That might seem small but for our community it's an issue."

The organization's Healthy Families DuPage, which offers home visit services to help teen parents adjust to their new roles, serves approximately 135 families and has a waiting list of more than 20 others.

Teen Parent Connection recently expanded it's Baby Steps program to the Henry Hyde Resource Center in Addison. Addison remains among the DuPage communities with the highest number of births to girls under 20, with 64 reported in 2006.

Vitek said Baby Steps helps teen parents connect with peers experiencing the same challenges.

But the key, she said, is to push prevention.

"When we go to the schools, we send both a professional who is educated in the statistics and a new teenage parent who tells it like it is: 'I can't go to the football game, can't go to the movies, I'm going to my job, coming home and am up until 3 a.m. taking care of my baby before school the next day,'" Vitek said. "Days and days of that is not going to sound fun to a teenager."

For details about Teen Parent Connection, visit www.teenparentconnection.org or call Lora Vitek at (630) 790-8433, ext. 269. For details on the Teen Parent Services Program offered by the DuPage County Health Department, call (630) 682-7979, ext. 7676 or visit www.dupagehealth.org.