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Trends in Teen Pregnancy and Childbearing

Teen Births

In 2017, there were 18.8 births for every 1,000 adolescent females ages 15-19, or 194,377 babies born to females in this age group.1 Births to teens ages 15-19 account for 5.0 percent of all births in 2017. Nearly nine in ten (89.2 percent) of these births occurred outside of marriage.1 The 2017 teen birth rate (births per 1,000 females ages 15-19 in a given year) is down seven percent from 2016, when the birth rate was 20.3, and down 70 percent from 1991 when it was at a record high of 61.8.1 The teen birth rate has declined to a new low each year since 2009.1 Still, the teen birth rate in the United States remains higher than that in many other developed countries, including Canada and the United Kingdom.2

Not all teen births are first births. In 2017, one in six (16.3 percent) births to 15- to 19-year-olds were to females who already had one or more births.1 Avoiding repeat teen births is one of the goals of OAH’s Pregnancy Assistance Fund (PAF) grant program to states and tribes. Grantees may use PAF Program funds to help expectant and parenting teens complete high school or earn postsecondary degrees, as well as to gain access to healthcare, child care, family housing, and other critical supports. The money can also be used to improve services for pregnant women who are victims of domestic violence and to increase public awareness and education efforts surrounding teen pregnancy prevention, among other activities. Through PAF Program grants, OAH also supports work with adolescent males who become young fathers. Find more information about the Pregnancy Assistance Fund.

Variations in Teen Birth Rates across Populations

Teen birth rates differ substantially by age, racial and ethnic group, and region of the country. Most adolescents who give birth are 18 or older; in 2017, 75 percent of all teen births occurred to 18- to 19-year-olds.1 Birth rates are also higher among Hispanic and black adolescents than among their white counterparts. In 2017, Hispanic adolescent females ages 15-19 had a higher birth rate (28.9 births per 1,000 adolescent females) than black adolescent females (27.6)3 and white adolescent females (13.4) (see Figure 1).3 To help put these differences in perspective, estimates from 2013 show that eight percent of white adolescent females will give birth by their 20th birthday, as will 16 percent of black adolescent females and 17 percent of Hispanic adolescent females.4

Figure 1: Birth rates per 1,000 females ages 15-19, by race and Hispanic origin of mother, 1990-2017

In 2017, Hispanic adolescent females ages 15-19 had a higher birth rate (28.9 births per 1,000 adolescent females) than black adolescent females (27.6) and white adolescent females (13.4).

Source for 1990-2014: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2015). Births: Final data for 2014. National Vital Statistics Reports, 64(12). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr64/nvsr64_12.pdf
Source for 2015: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017). Births: Final data for 2015. National Vital Statistics Reports, 66(1). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr66/nvsr66_01.pdf
Source for 2016: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2018). Births: Final data for 2016. National Vital Statistics Reports, 67(1). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr67/nvsr67_01.pdf
Source for 2017: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2018). Natality public-use data 2007-2017 [Data set]. Retrieved from http://wonder.cdc.gov/natality-current.html

Table 1: Birth rates per 1,000 females ages 15-19, by race and Hispanic origin of mother, 1990-2017

Year Total White Black Hispanic
1990 59.9 42.5 116.2 100.3
1991 61.8 43.4 118.2 104.6
1992 60.3 41.7 114.7 103.3
1993 59.0 40.7 110.5 101.8
1994 58.2 40.4 105.7 101.3
1995 56.0 39.3 97.2 99.3
1996 53.5 37.6 91.9 94.6
1997 51.3 36.0 88.3 89.6
1998 50.3 35.3 85.7 87.9
1999 48.8 34.1 81.0 86.8
2000 47.7 32.6 79.2 87.3
2001 45.0 30.3 73.1 84.4
2002 42.6 28.6 67.7 80.6
2003 41.1 27.4 63.7 78.4
2004 40.5 26.7 61.8 78.1
2005 39.7 26.0 59.4 76.5
2006 41.1 26.7 61.9 77.4
2007 41.5 27.2 62.0 75.3
2008 40.2 26.7 60.4 70.3
2009 37.9 25.7 56.7 63.6
2010 34.3 23.5 51.5 55.7
2011 31.3 21.7 47.3 49.6
2012 29.4 20.5 43.9 46.3
2013 26.5 18.6 39.0 41.7
2014 24.2 17.3 34.9 38.0
2015 22.3 16.0 31.8 34.9
2016 20.3 14.3 29.3 31.9
2017 18.8 13.4 27.6 28.9

Source for 1990-2014: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2015). Births: Final data for 2014. National Vital Statistics Reports, 64(12). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr64/nvsr64_12.pdf
Source for 2015: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017). Births: Final data for 2015. National Vital Statistics Reports, 66(1). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr66/nvsr66_01.pdf
Source for 2016: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2018). Births: Final data for 2016. National Vital Statistics Reports, 67(1). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr67/nvsr67_01.pdf
Source for 2017: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2018). Natality public-use data 2007-2017 [Data set]. Retrieved from http://wonder.cdc.gov/natality-current.html

Teen birth rates also vary substantially across regions and states. In 2017, the lowest teen birth rates were reported in the Northeast, while rates were highest in states across the southern part of the country (see Figure 2).1 See how your state compares on birth rates, pregnancy rates, sexual activity, and contraceptive use with OAH’s reproductive health state fact sheets.

Figure 2: Birth rates per 1,000 females ages 15-19, by state, 2017

In 2017, the lowest teen birth rates were reported in the Northeast, while rates were highest in states across the southern part of the country

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2018). Births: Final data for 2017. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/pressroom/sosmap/teen-births/teenbirths.htm

Table 2: Birth rates per 1,000 females ages 15-19, by state, 2017

State Teen birth rate (ages 15-19 year) Teen birth rate range
United States 18.8
Alabama 27.0 26.6 - 32.8 (dark red)
Alaska 22.0 21.3 - 24.6 (red)
Arizona 22.0 21.3 - 24.6 (red)
Arkansas 32.8 26.6 - 32.8 (dark red)
California 15.1 14.2 - 16.2 (light orange)
Colorado 16.1 14.2 - 16.2 (light orange)
Connecticut 8.8 8.1 - 13.8 (cream)
Delaware 18.5 16.4 - 21.2 (orange)
District of Columbia 21.0 16.4 - 21.2 (orange)
Florida 18.2 16.4 - 21.2 (orange)
Georgia 21.9 21.3 - 24.6 (red)
Hawaii 19.1 16.4 - 21.2 (orange)
Idaho 18.6 16.4 - 21.2 (orange)
Illinois 17.4 16.4 - 21.2 (orange)
Indiana 22.8 21.3 - 24.6 (red)
Iowa 16.0 14.2 - 16.2 (light orange)
Kansas 21.3 21.3 - 24.6 (red)
Kentucky 29.0 26.6 - 32.8 (dark red)
Louisiana 29.1 26.6 - 32.8 (dark red)
Maine 13.1 8.1 - 13.8 (cream)
Maryland 14.2 14.2 - 16.2 (light orange)
Massachusetts 8.1 8.1 - 13.8 (cream)
Michigan 16.4 14.2 - 16.2 (light orange)
Minnesota 12.1 8.1 - 13.8 (cream)
Mississippi 31.0 26.6 - 32.8 (dark red)
Missouri 22.5 21.3 - 24.6 (red)
Montana 21.2 16.4 - 21.2 (orange)
Nebraska 18.1 16.4 - 21.2 (orange)
Nevada 21.9 21.3 - 24.6 (red)
New Hampshire 8.4 8.1 - 13.8 (cream)
New Jersey 10.3 8.1 - 13.8 (cream)
New Mexico 27.9 26.6 - 32.8 (dark red)
New York 12.5 8.1 - 13.8 (cream)
North Carolina 20.6 16.4 - 21.2 (orange)
North Dakota 16.2 14.2 - 16.2 (light orange)
Ohio 20.8 16.4 - 21.2 (orange)
Oklahoma 29.7 26.6 - 32.8 (dark red)
Oregon 15.0 14.2 - 16.2 (light orange)
Pennsylvania 14.8 14.2 - 16.2 (light orange)
Rhode Island 11.4 8.1 - 13.8 (cream)
South Carolina 21.7 21.3 - 24.6 (red)
South Dakota 22.6 21.3 - 24.6 (red)
Tennessee 26.6 26.6 - 32.8 (dark red)
Texas 27.6 26.6 - 32.8 (dark red)
Utah 15.2 14.2 - 16.2 (light orange)
Vermont 10.1 8.1 - 13.8 (cream)
Virginia 15.0 14.2 - 16.2 (light orange)
Washington 14.8 14.2 - 16.2 (light orange)
West Virginia 27.1 26.6 - 32.8 (dark red)
Wisconsin 13.8 8.1 - 13.8 (cream)
Wyoming 24.6 21.3 - 24.6 (red)

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2018). Births: Final data for 2017. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/pressroom/sosmap/teen-births/teenbirths.htm

Teen Pregnancies

The national teen pregnancy rate (number of pregnancies per 1,000 females ages 15-19) has declined almost continuously over the last quarter century. The teen pregnancy rate includes pregnancies that end in a live birth, as well as those that end in abortion or miscarriage (fetal loss).* The teen pregnancy rate declined by 63 percent in less than 25 years — from 117.6 pregnancies per 1,000 females ages 15-19 in 1990 to 43.4 in 2013 (the most recent year in which data are available).5 According to recent research, this decline is due to the combination of an increased percentage of adolescents who are waiting to have sexual intercourse and the increased use of effective contraceptives by teens.5,6

About 77 percent of teen pregnancies are unplanned. In other words, the pregnancies are unwanted or occurred “too soon,” according to a national survey of adolescents.7 In 2013, the majority of pregnancies to adolescent females ages 15-19 in the United States — an estimated 61 percent — ended in a live birth; 15 percent ended in a miscarriage; and 25 percent ended in an abortion. The rate of abortions among adolescents is the lowest since abortion was legalized in 1973 and is 76 percent lower than its peak in 1988.5

* The teen pregnancy rate is the sum all live births, abortions, and miscarriages (or fetal losses) per 1,000 adolescent females ages 15-19 in a given year.

Characteristics Associated with Adolescent Childbearing

Numerous individual, family, and community characteristics have been linked to adolescent childbearing. For example, adolescents who are enrolled in school and engaged in learning (including participating in after-school activities, having positive attitudes toward school, and performing well educationally) are less likely than are other adolescents to have a baby.8 At the family level, adolescents with mothers who gave birth as teens and/or whose mothers have only a high school degree are more likely to have a baby before age 20 than are teens whose mothers were older at their birth or who attended at least some college. In addition, having lived with both biological parents at age 14 is associated with a lower risk of a teen birth.9 At the community level, adolescents who live in wealthier neighborhoods with strong levels of employment are less likely to have a baby than are adolescents in neighborhoods in which income and employment opportunities are more limited.8



Footnotes


1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2018). Births: Final data for 2017. National Vital Statistics Reports, 67(8). Retrieved from  https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr67/nvsr67_08-508.pdf
2 United Nations Statistics Division. (2015). Demographic Yearbook 2013. New York, NY: United Nations. Retrieved from http://unstats.un.org/unsd/demographic/products/dyb/dyb2013/Table10.pdf
3 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2018). Natality public-use data 2007-2017 [Data set]. Retrieved from http://wonder.cdc.gov/natality-current.html
Cook, E. (Unpublished). Percentage of teens who will experience a first birth based on analyses of NCHS Vital Statistics 2013 final birth data. Washington, DC: Child Trends.
5 Kost, K., Maddow-Zimet, I., & Arpaia, A. (2017). Pregnancies, births and abortions among adolescents and young women in the United States, 2013: National and state trends by age, race and ethnicity. Guttmacher Institute. Retrieved from https://www.guttmacher.org/sites/default/files/report_pdf/us-adolescent-pregnancy-trends-2013.pdf
6 Santelli, J. S., Lindberg, L. D., Finer, L. B., & Singh, S. (2007). Explaining recent declines in adolescent pregnancy in the United States: The contribution of abstinence and improved contraceptive use. American Journal of Public Health, 97(1), 150-156.
7 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2012). National health statistics reports: Intended and unintended births in the United States: 1982-2010 (No. 55). Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhsr/nhsr055.pdf
8 Kirby, D., & Lepore, G. (2007). Sexual risk and protective factors: Factors affecting teen sexual behavior, pregnancy, childbearing and sexually transmitted disease. Washington, DC: ETR Associates and The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. Retrieved from http://recapp.etr.org/recapp/documents/theories/RiskProtectiveFactors200712.pdf
9 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2011). Teenagers in the United States: Sexual activity, contraceptive use, and childbearing, 2006-2010 National Survey of Family Growth. Vital Health Statistics, 23(31). Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/series/sr_23/sr23_031.pdf
Content created by Office of Adolescent Health
Content last reviewed on May 30, 2019