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Local pregnancy-prevention programs are credited for a steady drop in Louisiana's teen birth rate. A recent study from the National Center for Health Statistics reported that births to teen mothers dropped 24 percent in Louisiana between 1991 and 2001 -- slightly under the national drop of 26 percent. The center credited several public and private initiatives in Louisiana that emphasized responsible behavior among teens, including abstinence and contraceptive use.

Louisiana Housing Finance Agency officersviolated ethics policies, mismanaged the agency and failed many of the low-income families who depend on the agency's SHARE program to rehabilitate their homes, according to Legislative Auditor Dan Kyle. His office last week released an audit blasting the agency's managers for spending more than $6 million to renovate more than 300 Louisiana homes; many of the houses had shoddy or unfinished work, the audit said.

Gordon L. Hackman ,a New Orleans attorney who practices in Boutte, had his law license suspended for two and a half years for mishandling clients' money. The state Supreme Court said Hackman used more than $113,000 from a client escrow account for his personal use, and abruptly fired an employee who discovered the abuse and confronted him about it. Hackman told the high court that he had intended to replace the money.

Louisiana is the second-worst state in the nation (behind New Mexico) when it comes to inoculating children against common but dangerous diseases, according to the National Immunization Program. A recent study found that the state experienced its biggest drop in vaccinating children before their second birthday since 1996. Public health officials say cuts to the state's health budget may be at least partly responsible for the drop in vaccinations.

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