Teen Pregnancy Prevention

  • Teenage childbearing often is thought of as a problem that pertains only to adolescent females. But talking about responsible sexual behavior needs to recognize both female and male involvement in decisions to have sex.
  • In 2009, 46 percent of high school students reported ever having had sexual intercourse.[1]
  • The teen birth rate in the United States is currently at an all-time low, but remains much higher than rates in other developed nations.[2]
  • The vast majority (8 in 10) of all pregnancies among adolescents are either unplanned or occurred before the adolescents were ready to be parents.[3]
  • One in six (18%) 15-year-old females will give birth by her 20th birthday. This percentage is higher for black (1 in 4) and Hispanic (1 in 3) adolescents than for white adolescents (1 in 10).[4]
  • Abstinence from sexual intercourse is the most effective way to prevent unplanned pregnancies. 
  • In order to avoid unplanned pregnancies, it is essential for adolescents who are sexually active to use effective contraceptives (such as condoms, birth control pills, the patch, the vaginal ring, the IUD, and injectable birth control methods) and to use them every time they have sex.
  • Adolescents who have a baby are less likely to finish high school, are more likely to be poor as adults, and are more likely to rely on public assistance than those who do not have a teen birth.
  • Children of teen parents have:
    • Poorer cognitive and educational outcomes, such as a lower likelihood of completing high school and lower test scores;
    • More behavioral problems, including higher levels of fighting, delinquency, and early sexual experience;
    • Poor health outcomes, such as a low birth weight.[5]
  • In the years after 1996, 76 percent of adolescent mothers between the ages of 15 and 17 lived with a parent.[6]

Know More

[1] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2010). Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey - United States, 2009. Surveillance summaries: MMWR 2010; 59 (No. SS-5). Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/pdf/ss/ss5905.pdf
[2] Hamilton, B. E., Martin, J. A., & Ventura, S. J. (2010). Births: Preliminary data for 2009. National Vital StatisticsReports, 59(3): Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr59/nvsr59_03.pdf
[3] Finer, L. B., & Henshaw, S. K. (2006). Disparities in rates of unintended pregnancy in the United States, 1994 and 2001. Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 38(2), 90-96.
[4] Abma, J. C., Martinez, G. M., & Copen, C. E. (2010). Teenagers in the United States: Sexual activity, contraceptive use, and childbearing, National Survey of Family Growth 2006-2008. National Center for Health Statistics. Vital andHealth Statistics, 23(30). Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/series/sr_23/sr23_030.pdf
[5] Hoffman, S. D., & Maynard, R. A. (Eds.). (2008). Kids having kids: Economic costs and social consequences of teenpregnancy (2nd ed.). Washington, DC: Urban Institute Press.
[6] Acs, G., & Koball, H. (2003). TANF and the status of teen mothers under age 18 (Series A No. A-62). Washington, DC: The Urban Institute. Retrieved from http://www.urban.org/publications/310796.html
Last updated: July 16, 2014