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Teen pregnancy rates also higher than average

By Brett Kelman

HAGATNA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Jan. 9, 2012) – Nine babies are born on Guam each day and the island is tied with Utah for the highest birth rate in the Untied States.

For every 1,000 Guam residents, about 19 babies are born per year, according to a study by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. In comparison, for every 1,000 people in the U.S., 13 babies are born per year, the CDC study states.

In total, 3,422 children were born on Guam in 2010, according to the latest statistics available in the CDC study.

Guam's high birth numbers come as no shock to Maria Angelina Tuazon, who has been a Guam Memorial Hospital nurse for nearly two decades and spent most of that time in the nursery.

On Friday, the nursery had five healthy babies, about eight who were shifting out of the intensive care unit and one who needed serious neo-natal care.

That was actually kind of a slow day, Tuazon said. Capacity-wise, the hospital's nursery can hold as many as 30 infants, according to GMH Nursing Supervisor Bill Toves.

The flow of newborns through the GMH nursery is endless, Tuazon said, and although most newborns are healthy and stay for only one day, some of the sickest will stay in the nursery for months.

"I guess I've gotten used to it over the years ... But the experiences you get working in a nursery, you just can't get working outside in the adult unit," she said.

Tuazon added later: "This is the part that I love -- taking care of babies."

There is no better experience than watching a baby that was born sick finally go home healthy, she said. Nurses try to enjoy the moment and then quickly move on, because there are always more babies to care for, she said.

The island's only hospital for civilians is generally busy, and that's not just on the flow of newborns, she said.

According to the statistics from the CDC study, only Utah has a birth rate as high as Guam.

As a whole, U.S. births have dropped over the last three years, according to The Associated Press.

Teen pregnancy

Guam also has one of the higher rates of teen pregnancy in the nation, but not the highest.

According to a statistics from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, for every 1,000 Guam girls between the ages of 15 and 19, about 51 are pregnant.

Seven states and two territories -- Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands -- have a higher rate of teen pregnancy. Mississippi leads the country with about 64 pregnant teens per 1,000 girls.

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