Minnesota Title V MCH Needs Assessment Fact Sheets

Pregnant Women, Mothers and Infants

Male-Father Involvement in Reproductive Health and Parenting

Summer 2004

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Size of the Problem

Over 68,000 births occur annually in Minnesota with the same number of birth fathers. In 2002, 27.5% of Minnesota births were to unmarried mothers [1,2]. Male reproductive involvement is essential in each of these births. Having a legal father identified on the birth certificate is important so that the infant/child can get Social Security benefits, Veteran’s benefits, tribal registration benefits, health care coverage, worker compensation benefits and inheritance rights. Children also benefit by knowing both of their parent’s biological, cultural and medical histories.

Seriousness

People affected by male involvement in reproductive health and parenting
Responsible sexual behavior is one of the ten leading health indicators for the nation in Healthy People 2010 and targets the behavior of both men and women [3]. Teenage males face reproductive health decisions with fewer resources and male-specific counseling/clinic services than their female partners. Men make up only 2% of clients in the federally funded Title X Family Planning programs [4]. The anticipated growth is expected to reach 300,000 high-school aged males in 2002. Research notes that young men perceive pregnancy as a negative event that could prevent achievement of their specific life goals [5].

Involving young men in family planning and reproductive health has the following benefits.

  • Reducing the rate of unintended pregnancy and HIV [6].
  • Improving communication between young men and women, helping them make more informed, shared decisions around family planning and reproductive health [7].
  • Presenting more positive images and models for responsible, healthy masculinity [8].
  • Increasing men’s sensitivity to gender equity and reducing the incidents of violence against women [6].
  • Increasing men’s access to comprehensive health care [9].
Minnesota Out-of-Wedlock Births, 1996-2002
Year Percentage
1996
24.9%
1997
25.2%
1998
25.7%
1999
25.7%
2000
25.7%
2001
25.8%
2002
27.5%

National data indicates that early male sexual experience is associated with other problem behaviors in 15-19 year olds:

  • 76% of sexually experienced males reported using drugs in the past 12 months;
  • 75% had past criminal involvement;
  • 87% were >2years behind in school [10].

Once an infant is born, a father’s role as parent has profound impact according to national research. Children in father-present homes:

  • Had higher IQ, verbal and performance scores than children in father-absent homes;
  • Were less likely to experience emotional disorders and depression; and
  • Had daughters who delayed sexual activity [11].

One indicator of contraceptive use by teenage males is the Minnesota Student Survey. Similar to national data, the older the teenager, the more likely he is to have sex [10].

Disparities
Nationally, African American teen males initiate sex earlier than Hispanic or white males. Half of black teens report having sex by age 16 [10].

White youth are 2-3 times more likely to live in a two-parent family than are African American youth. However, non-resident African American fathers are nearly 1½ times more likely to visit their children on a weekly basis than non-resident white fathers [12].

Economic
No economic impact data is available related to male-father involvement in reproductive health.

Interventions

The Urban Institute’s report, Young Men’s Sexual and Reproductive Health: Toward a National Strategy includes a five-step strategy recommendation [13].

  • Promote sexual health and development.
  • Promote healthy intimate relationships.
  • Prevent and control the transmission of STIs, including HIV.
  • Prevent unintended pregnancy.
  • Promote responsible fatherhood.

Effectiveness of Interventions
No Minnesota data is available to document the effectiveness of this intervention. A study was done on the Wise Guys program in North Carolina (www.wiseguysnc.org Attn: Non-MDH Link). Six-months after program entry, male participants had the following positive outcomes:

  • Improved knowledge of sexuality and consequences of early sexual activity;
  • Healthier sex role attitudes; and
  • Increased communication with parents and teachers.

Status

Minnesota Resources
Public health programs and strategies that promote male-father involvement in reproductive health and parenting include:

  • The Minnesota Fathers and Families Network has been in operation since 2003 and is a statewide non-profit agency. Visit resources at www.mnfathers.org [Attn: Non-MDH Link]
  • The Minneapolis Department of Health and Family Support in partnership with Fremont Community Health Services, Children’s Hospitals and Clinics and Teenage Medical Services works with adolescent African American males from the North and South side neighborhoods of Minneapolis to increase STD testing/treatment, increase condom use, increase knowledge and change social norms about sexual activity and teen pregnancies.
  • Dads Make a Difference has two curricula that are used in over 70 Minnesota schools related to the importance of fathers in the lives of children. www.dadsmakeadifference.org [Attn: Non-MDH Link]
  • Three teen clinics in Minnesota have joined together to offer resources for males in reproductive health. These clinics include West Suburban Teen Clinic, the Annex Teen Clinic and Teen Age Medical Services. www.teenhealth411.org/guys_sex.php [Attn: Non-MDH Link]
  • “Options for Young Dads” at Carver-Scott Educational Cooperative serves fathers in the two counties with educational and legal resources.
  • The Duluth-based Dads and Daughters is a national advocacy group with educational materials and books available. www.dadsanddaughters.org [Attn: Non-MDH Link]
  • Martha Farrell Erickson and William Doherty at the University of Minnesota have received federal funding to focus on how first time fathers are prepared for parenthood. www.dadsnow.org/studies/hhs-dad2.htm [Attn: Non-MDH Link]

Community Awareness
No research has documented community awareness of male-father involvement in reproductive health and parenting in Minnesota.

References

1. Minnesota Center for Health Statistics. 2003
2. 2000 Census data for Minnesota. 2002
3. Satcher D. Evolving Health Priorities. Washington DC. Office of Public Health and Science. 1999.
4. 2002 National Directory- A Resource Guide to Male Reproductive Health Programs. Chivers-Grant Institute of Morehouse College. 2002.
5. Where does reproductive health fit into the lives of adolescent males? Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health. July/Aug. 2003. www.guttmacher.org [Attn: Non-MDH Link]
6. Drennan M. Reproductive health: New perspectives on men’s participation. Population Reports. 46.1998.
7. Becker R. Male involvement and adolescent Pregnancy prevention. Resource Center for Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention. Accessed 6-14-04 www.etr.org/recapp/theories/mip/index4.htm [Attn: Non-MDH Link]
8. Wegner MN, Landry E, Wilkinson D, Tzanis J. Men as partners in reproductive health: From issues to action. International Family Planning Perspectives. 24(1):38-42. 1998.
9. Ndong I, Becker RM, et al. men’s reproductive health:defining, designing and delivering services. International Family Planning Perspectives. 25:S53-S55. 1999.
10. Sonenstein FL, et al. Involving Males in Preventing Pregnancy: A Guide for Program Planners. Urban Institute. 1997.
11. National Center on Fathers and Families. Father Presence Matters. www.ncoff.gse.upenn.edu [Attn: Non-MDH Link]
12. Mott FL. Sons, daughters and father’s absence: Differentials in father-leaving probabilities and in-home environments. Journal of Family Issues. 15:97-128. 1994.
13.The Urban Institute. Young Men’s Sexual and Reproductive Health: Toward a National Strategy. Washington DC