LANSING (WWJ) – A new report says fewer teens are having babies in Michigan, but the percentage of babies born to unmarried women has risen sharply in the past decade.

The Kids Count study finds 40 percent of all state births in 2009 were to unmarried women, up from 34 percent in 2000. Two-thirds of births in that time were to single moms.

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WWJ Newsradio 950 spoke with Jane Zehnder-Merrell, Kids Count in Michigan project director at the Michigan League for Human Services.

“The conditions of moms are very closely connected to the conditions of babies … we act as of this isn’t as important as it is,” Zehnder-Merrell said.

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“Moms who were single at the time of birth are much less likely to receive child support than married women and more likely to struggle financially,’’ Zehnder-Merrell said.  She added unmarried moms, much like teen moms, are also less likely to have access to good health care

Alcona County, south of Alpena, has the highest birth risk, according to the study. Houghton County in the Upper Peninsula has the lowest.

Michigan League for Human Services officials say they will use this report to help provide more robust family support services, better access to women’s health care services, expanded family planning, stronger access to Medicaid services through improved provider rates and also to work toward a stronger focus on improving maternal and child health in minority communities.

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Get more information on the report at this link.