ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - The latest numbers rank New Mexico second-worst in the nation for teen births with 53 out of every thousand girls here having a baby.
The national average is 34 per every thousand.
The good news is that New Mexico's numbers are getting better although it's clear the state still has a long way to go.
"We have about 4,500 births to teen girls every year in new Mexico," said Sylvia Ruiz of the New Mexico Teen Pregnancy Coalition. "We know the financial impact of that. Human cost is not documented anywhere, but it's huge."
Ruiz helps fight teen pregnancy every day as part of the coalition and says New Mexico has always ranked in the bottom five.
Poverty has always been associated with teen birth rates, and New Mexico is a state that struggles with it.
But she says she's encouraged with the latest numbers.
"In spite of the economic landscape in which we've been operating that the teen birth rate continues to decline," she said.
In 2009 the state's teen birth rate was 64 per thousand, 10 more than the latest numbers.
Ruiz says she knows where New Mexico is failing: a lack programs for young men is No. 1.
"They are only starting to understand now that they are responsible, too," she continued. "We have a couple young dads who said, 'Well, she said she was on the pill.'"
Ruiz says another area that's lacking is education for adults to pass on to their kids and comprehensive sex education in schools.
"We did have House Bill 44 that passed a couple years ago that requires health as a graduation requirement, but given the economic landscape we're in, schools can't afford it, they just can't," Ruiz said. "So we have a long way to go, but we have come a long way."
The only state that ranked worse than New Mexico was Mississippi.
The state with the lowest rate was New Hampshire with 16 teen births per every thousand girls.
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