Teen Pregnancy, Infant Mortality, and STIs: A Profile of Critical Health Inequities in Missouri
TPPP has introduced a comprehensive new report, Health Disparities and Inequities Among Youth in Missouri using key data sources to illustrate the current sexual health crisis and the urgent need for action. This report supports our critical mission of promoting adolescent sexual health and preventing teen pregnancy. We have collated a wide range of local, national and international public health data to highlight disparate outcomes in teen pregnancy, infant mortality, STIs, and HIV rates. We compare Missouri with other U.S. states and identify the most vulnerable populations within our state.
Looking at data from Flourish STL and the Missouri Foundation for Health, the report points to what Flourish describes as a “crisis in our region,” where Black babies are four times more likely to die from SIDS than White babies, regardless of the mother’s level of education, a disparity linked to racism-induced maternal stress 1. It also highlights the need for increased access to healthcare and medically accurate sexual health education (MASHE). Currently, 18 Missouri counties do not have access to a single publicly funded clinic that provides contraceptive health services, which makes these counties “contraceptive deserts.” Young adults aged 13-24 account for 30% of the 500 new HIV infections that occur each year in Missouri--an infection that is preventable through correct use of barrier methods and, once again, access to affordable youth-friendly healthcare.
Finally, our new report outlines a series of promising actions put forth by Health and Social Services to reduce health disparities nationally.
This report is only an initial step in understanding how disparities impact young people. We expect that there is much to learn from conversations with young people and community members with lived experience, as well as local data.
Through the participatory efforts of our tireless and dynamic community partners, we have already seen dramatic reductions in the rate of unplanned teen pregnancies. By providing a robust picture of the remaining challenges impacting adolescent sexual health and a platform of solutions, we are hopeful our report supports stakeholders in identifying areas for collaborative action to improve health equity for all in the state of Missouri.