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Prevalence of teenage pregnancy

File:Teenage birth rate per 1000 women 15–19, 2000-09.svg
Teenage birth rate per 1,000 women aged 15–19, 2000–2009[1]

Industrialized and developing countries have distinctly different rates of teenage pregnancy. In developed regions, such as North America and Western Europe, teen parents tend to be unmarried and adolescent pregnancy is seen as a social issue.

By contrast, teenage parents in developing countries are often married, and their pregnancy may be welcomed by family and society. However, in these societies, early pregnancy may combine with malnutrition and poor health care to cause medical problems. A report by Save the Children found that, annually, 13 million children are born to women under age 20 worldwide. More than 90% of these births occur to women living in developing countries. Complications of pregnancy and childbirth are the leading cause of mortality among women between the ages of 15 and 19 in such areas, as they are the leading cause of mortality among older women.

The age of the mother is determined by the easily verified date when the pregnancy ends, not by the estimated date of conception.[2] Consequently, the statistics do not include women who first became pregnant before their 20th birthdays, if those pregnancies did not end until on or after their 20th birthdays.[2]

Rates by continent


The highest rate of teenage pregnancy in the world — 143 per 1,000 girls aged 15–19 years — is in sub-Saharan Africa.[3] Women in Africa, in general, get married at much earlier ages than women elsewhere — leading to earlier pregnancies. In Nigeria, according to the Health and Demographic Survey in 1992, 47% of women aged 20–24 were married before 15 and 87% before 18. 53% of those surveyed also had given birth to a child before the age of 18.[4] Teenage birth rates in African countries (2002):[5]

A Save the Children report identified 10 countries where motherhood carried the most risks for young women and their babies. Of these, 9 were in sub-Saharan Africa, and Niger, Liberia, and Mali were the nations where girls were the most at-risk. In the 10 highest-risk nations, more than one in six teenage girls between the ages of 15 to 19 gave birth annually, and nearly one in seven babies born to these teenagers died before the age of one year.[6]


In the Indian subcontinent, premarital sex is uncommon, but early marriage sometimes means adolescent pregnancy. The rate of early marriage is higher in rural regions than it is in urbanized areas. Fertility rates in South Asia range from 71 to 119 births per 1000 women aged 15–19. 30% of all Indian induced abortions are performed on women who are under 20.

Other parts of Asia have shown a trend towards increasing age at marriage for both sexes. In South Korea and Singapore, marriage before age 20 has all but disappeared, and, although the occurrence of sexual intercourse before marriage has risen, rates of adolescent childbearing are low at 4 to 8 per 1000. The rate of early marriage and pregnancy has decreased sharply in Indonesia; however, it remains high in comparison to the rest of Asia.[citation needed]

Surveys from Thailand have found that a significant minority of unmarried adolescents are sexually active. Although premarital sex is considered normal behavior for males, particularly with prostitutes, it is not always regarded as such for females. Most Thai youth reported that their first sexual experience, whether within or outside of marriage, was without contraception. The adolescent fertility rate in Thailand is relatively high at 60 per 1000. 25% of women admitted to hospitals in Thailand for complications of induced abortion are students. The Thai government has undertaken measures to inform the nation's youth about the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases and unplanned pregnancy.

According to the World Health Organization, in several Asian countries including Bangladesh and Indonesia, a large proportion (26-37%) of deaths among female adolescents can be attributed to maternal causes.[7]


The overall trend in Europe since 1970 has been a decrease in the total fertility rate, an increase in the age at which women experience their first birth, and a decrease in the number of births among teenagers. However, in the past, teenage mothers in Europe tended to be married, and therefore were less likely to be perceived as a social issue. Some countries, such as Greece and Poland, retain a traditional model of births to married mothers in their late teens.

The rates of teenage pregnancy may vary widely within a country. For instance, in the United Kingdom, the rate of adolescent pregnancy in 2002 was as high as 100.4 per 1000 among young women living in the London Borough of Lambeth, and as low as 20.2 per 1000 among residents in the Midlands local authority area of Rutland. In Italy, the teenage birth rate in central regions is only 3.3 per 1,000, but, in the Mezzogiorno it is 10.0 per 1000.

Teenage birth is often associated with economic and social issues: such as alcohol and drug misuse and, across 13 nations in the European Union, women who gave birth as teenagers were twice as likely to be living in poverty, compared to those who first gave birth when they were over 20.[8]


The Netherlands has a low rate of births and abortions among teenagers (5 births per 1,000 women aged 15–19 in 2002[5]). Compared to countries with higher teenage birth rates, the Dutch have a higher average age at first intercourse and increased levels of contraceptive use (including the "double Dutch" method of using both a hormonal contraception method and a condom[citation needed]).

Mediterranean countries

In some countries, such as Italy and Spain, the low rate of adolescent pregnancy (6 births per 1,000 women aged 15–19 in 2002 in both countries)[5] may be attributed to traditional values[citation needed] and social stigmatization.[citation needed] These two countries also have low abortion rates (lower than Sweden and the other Nordic countries)[9] and their teenage pregnancy rates are among the lowest in Europe. Portugal, however, has a relatively high percentage of teenage pregnancy (17 births per 1,000 women aged 15–19 in 2002).[5]

Nordic countries

Nordic countries, such as Denmark and Sweden, also have low rates of teenage birth (both have 7 births per 1,000 women aged 15–19 in 2002[5]). However, Norway's birth rate is slightly higher (11 births per 1,000 women aged 15–19 in 2002[5]) and Iceland has a birth rate of 19 per 1,000 women aged 15–19 [5] (nearly the same as the UK). These countries have higher abortion rates than the Netherlands.

United Kingdom

The U.K. has one of the highest teenage birth rates in Europe with a rate of 26.4 teenage births per 1,000 women aged 15–19 in 2006, down from 27.9 births in 2001.[10] The U.K. also has a higher rate of abortion than most European countries. Of young Britons reported engaging in sexual intercourse whilst in their teens, 80% said they did not use a form of contraception, although a half of those under 16, and one-third of those between 16 to 19, said they did not use a form of contraception during their first encounter. 10% of British teen mothers are married.[11] Adolescent pregnancy is viewed as a matter of concern by both the British government and the British press.

Eastern Europe

Romania and Bulgaria have some of the highest teenage birth rates in Europe with a rate of 39.3 and 46.7 teenage births per 1,000 women respectively.[9] Both countries also have very large Romani populations, who have an occurrence of teenage pregnancies well above the local average.[12][13][14]

North America


The Canadian teenage birth rate in 2002 was 16 per 1000 [5] and the teenage pregnancy rate was 33.9. According to data from Statistics Canada, the Canadian teenage pregnancy rate has trended towards a steady decline for both younger (15-17) and older (18-19) teens in the period between 1992-2002.[15] Canada's highest teen pregnancy rates occur in small towns located in rural parts of peninsular Ontario. Alberta and Quebec have high teen pregnancy rates as well.

United States

In 2013, the teenage birth rate in the United States reached a historic low: 26.6 births per 1,000 women aged 15–19.[16] More than three-quarters of these births are to adult women aged 18 or 19.[16] In 2005 in the U.S., the majority (57%) of teen pregnancies resulted in a live birth, 27% ended in an induced abortion, and 16% in a fetal loss.[17]

The U.S. teen birth rate was 53 births per 1,000 women aged 15–19 in 2002,[5] the highest in the developed world.[8] If all pregnancies, including those that end in abortion or miscarriage, are taken into account, the total rate in 2000 was 75.4 pregnancies per 1,000 girls. Nevada and the District of Columbia have the highest teen pregnancy rates in the U.S., while North Dakota has the lowest.[18] Over 80% of teenage pregnancies in the U.S. are unintended;[19] approximately one third end in abortion, one third end in spontaneous miscarriage, and one third will continue their pregnancy and keep their baby.[20]

However, the trend is decreasing: in 1990, the birth rate was 61.8, and the pregnancy rate 116.9 per thousand. This decline has manifested across all races, although teenagers of African-American and Hispanic descent retain a higher rate, in comparison to that of European-Americans and Asian-Americans. The Guttmacher Institute attributed about 25% of the decline to abstinence and 75% to the effective use of contraceptives.[18]

Within the United States teen pregnancy is often brought up in political discourse. The goal to limit teen pregnancy is shared by Republicans and Democrats, though avenues of reduction are usually different. Many Democrats cite teen pregnancy as proof of the continuing need for access to birth control and sexual education, while Republicans often cite a need for returning to conservative values, often including abstinence.

An inverse correlation has been noted between teen pregnancy rates and the quality of education in a state. A positive correlation, albeit weak, appears between a city's teen pregnancy rate and its average summer night temperature, especially in the Southern U.S. (Savageau, compiler, 1993–1995).


UN Statistics Division, live birth 2005

Per 1,000 women 15–19 years old, source:[1]

UN Statistics Division, estimates 1995-2010

Per 1,000 women 15–19 years old, source:[21]

Birth and abortion rates, 1996

Per 1000 women 15–19, (%aborted = %of teenage pregnancies ending in abortion ) source:[9][22][23][24][25]

Country birth rate abortion rate combined rate % aborted
Netherlands 7.7 3.9 11.6 33.6
Spain 7.5 4.9 12.4 39.5
Italy 6.9 6.7 13.3 50.4
Greece 12.2 1.3 13.5 9.6
Belgium 9.9 5.2 15.1 34.4
Germany 13.0 5.3 18.3 28.9
Finland 9.8 9.6 19.4 49.5
Ireland 16.7 4.6 21.3 21.6
France 9.4 13.2 22.6 58.4
Denmark 8.2 15.4 23.6 65.3
Sweden 7.7 17.7 25.4 69.7
Norway 13.6 18.3 31.9 57.4
Czech Republic 20.1 12.4 32.5 38.2
Iceland 21.5 20.6 42.1 48.9
Slovakia 30.5 13.1 43.6 30
Australia 20.1 23.9 44 54.3
Canada 22.3 22.1 44.4 49.8
Israel 32.0 14.3 46.3 30.9
United Kingdom 29.6 21.3 50.9 41.8
New Zealand 33.4 22.5 55.9 40.3
Hungary 29.9 30.2 60.1 50.2
Romania 40.0 37.9 77.9 48.7
United States 55.6 30.2 85.8 35.2

See also


  1. ^ a b Live births by age of mother and sex of child bred, general and age-specific fertility rates: latest available year, 2000–2009 — United Nations Statistics Division – Demographic and Social Statistics
  2. ^ a b Kost K, Henshaw S and Carlin L, (2010). "U.S. Teenage Pregnancies, Births and Abortions: National and State Trends and Trends by Race and Ethnicity" (PDF). Pregnancies are the sum of births, abortions and miscarriages. Please note that in these tables, “age” refers to the woman’s age when the pregnancy ended. Consequently, actual numbers of pregnancies that occurred among teenagers are higher than those reported here, because most of the women who conceived at age 19 had their births or abortions after they turned 20 and, thus, were not counted as teenagers. 
  3. ^ Treffers P.E. (2003). "Teenage pregnancy, a worldwide problem". Nederlands tijdschrift voor geneeskunde 147 (47): 2320–5. PMID 14669537. 
  4. ^ Locoh, Therese. (2000). "Early Marriage And Motherhood In Sub-Saharan Africa." WIN News. Retrieved July 7, 2006.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i Indicator: Births per 1000 women (15-19 ys) – 2002 UNFPA, State of World Population 2003, Retrieved Jan 22, 2007.
  6. ^ Pregnancy and childbirth are leading causes of death in teenage girls in developing countries
  7. ^ Mehta, Suman, Groenen, Riet, & Roque, Francisco. United Nations Social and Economic Commission for Asia and the Pacific. (1998). Adolescents in Changing Times: Issues and Perspectives for Adolescent Reproductive Health in The ESCAP Region. Retrieved July 7, 2006.
  8. ^ a b UNICEF. (2001). A League Table of Teenage Births in Rich Nations PDF (888 KiB). Retrieved July 7, 2006.
  9. ^ a b c UNICEF (July 2001). "A league table of teenage births in rich nations" (PDF). Innocenti Report Card No.3. UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre, Florence. 
  10. ^ Social Trends 38 Chapter 2 pp 23
  11. ^ "Census 2001 People aged 16-29" Office For National Statistics
  12. ^ [1]
  13. ^ Silence Makes Babies - Transitions Online
  14. ^ The Politics of Gender: A Survey By Yoke-Lian Lee
  15. ^ Dryburgh, H. (2002). Teenage pregnancy. Health Reports, 12 (1), 9-18; Statistics Canada . (2005). Health Indicators, 2005, 2. Retrieved from Facts and Statistics: Sexual Health and Canadian Youth - Teen Pregnancy Rates
  16. ^ a b "Trends in Teen Pregnancy and Childbearing". Department of Health and Human Services. August 15, 2014. Retrieved August 21, 2014. 
  17. ^ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2011) Health Disparities and Inequality Report -- United States, MMWR, Jan 14, 2011 volume 60.
  18. ^ a b Wind, Rebecca. The Guttmacher Institute. (February 19, 2004). "U.S. Teenage Pregnancy Rate Drops For 10th Straight Year." Retrieved July 7, 2006.
  19. ^ J. Joseph Speidel, Cynthia C. Harper, and Wayne C. Shields (September 2008). "The Potential of Long-acting Reversible Contraception to Decrease Unintended Pregnancy". Contraception 78 (3): 197–200. PMID 18692608. doi:10.1016/j.contraception.2008.06.001. 
  20. ^ Strasburger, Victor C. (2007) Teen Pregnancy Rates in the USA Cool Nurse, MD University of New Mexico School of Medicine.
  21. ^ Age-specific Fertility Rates (ASFR) — Number of births to women in a particular age group, divided by the number of women in that age group. The age groups used are: 15-19, 20-24,….45-49. The data refer to five-year periods running from 1 July to 30 June of the initial and final years.
  22. ^ Sikron F, Wilf-Miron R, Israeli A, U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health; Wilf-Miron, R; Israeli, A (Feb 2003). "Adolescent pregnancy in Israel". Harefuah 142 (2): 131–6, 158, 157. PMID 12653047. 
  23. ^ Stanley K. Henshaw, Susheela Singh and Taylor Haas, The Guttmacher Institute (Jan 1999). "The Incidence of Abortion Worldwide". 
  24. ^ "Statistical Yearbook 2008" (PDF).  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  25. ^ Table 4.1, data from 1996, Irish Crisis Pregnancy Agency, Published 2006