Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Thomas Frieden said Wednesday that reducing teen pregnancy should be a major public health priority in the U.S., according to the National Journal. Friedan said teen pregnancy affects health care costs and limits opportunities for young girls.

According to the Journal:

Speaking at the American Public Health Association‘s annual conference, Frieden said, “Teenage pregnancy really is the intergenerational transmission of poverty.” He added that lowering teenage pregnancy rates is “[o]ne of the things we can do that has the biggest impact in societal inequality.”

Other countries have done a better job at reducing teen pregnancy rates, he noted, adding that there are proven strategies for preventing teen pregnancy.

The federal government has been actively funding sex education for young people in Florida, but state policy-makers have turned away millions of dollars that would have gone to sex education in struggling counties.

While the statewide teen pregnancy rate has dropped, a number of counties in Florida are facing a persistent problem with their teen pregnancy rates. Over 60 percent of the counties in Florida with the highest birth rate among teens who are between the ages of 15 and 19 did not manage to decrease their rates in 2009.

Florida was sixth in the nation for teen birth rates in 2009. The Miami-Fort Lauderdale metro area reported the second highest income inequality in the country, according to the most recent U.S. Census.

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